Farmers in Delhi’s Yamuna Khadar were hoping to cash in on the recent hike in the prices of vegetables and fruits. However, the floods have dashed their hopes.
Chandarpal, who hails from Badaun in Uttar Pradesh (UP), has been farming vegetables on a piece of leased land for the last two decades. He grows okra, spinach, beans and other vegetables.
“Nothing is left, everything has been destroyed in the flood. The spinach was ready to be sold in the market. The prices of vegetables were high this time so we were hoping for better profit. We sell vegetables in nearby mandi [in Khadar] and survive the full season on those sales but nothing is left now. I have incurred a loss of Rs 1.5 lakh on it,” Chandarpal, 42, told Patriot in his temporary shelter at Mayur Vihar-1.
The piece of land on which he grows vegetables is the sole source of livelihood for him and his family, which includes six others.
He is not alone in suffering. The story of Vidya Ram is also the same.
“I grew okra, radish, beans and ridge gourd on the seven bigha land. I had sold it in mandi on two days and was ready to sell again before the flood hit us. The price in mandi is very good. We normally sell 5 kg okra for 50 rupees but this time, I got 250 rupees for them. We sold pumpkin crates of 20 kg for Rs 1,000. But everything submerged. Otherwise, balle-balle thee is baar (it would have been great business this time),” he told Patriot.
“I paid Rs 12,000 per bigha for the land. I have lost around two lakh rupees in farming this time. Don’t know what will happen now? If the government can do anything, it should. Otherwise, we will have to work as daily-wage labourers.”
The flood this time has forced many farmers, who had been living here for two decades, to return to their hometown.Others are contemplating it.
Ram Swaroop is among those planning to leave Delhi and return to his hometown in UP. He has been farming in Yamuna Khadar since 2006 and sells his vegetables in mandi and as a hawker in local areas.
“There is no work here now, and without work we cannot survive. We grew radish this time. We sold it twice but the flood destroyed everything,” he added.
The stories of Ram Kishan, 25, and Nanhe Lal, 30, are the same. Both are farming on lease in Yamuna Khadar and growing vegetables.
“Our entire vegetable crop has submerged. I have lost over two lakh rupees. We are not sure we will be allowed to do farming again because there is dispute over land between Delhi Development Authority (DDA) and owners,” said Kishan.
“This was the only source of livelihood. We survive by selling vegetables. There is no source now. We lost around a lakh and are on the road now,” Lal revealed.
Nurseries hit as well
In the low-lying area of Yamuna Khadar in Mayur Vihar, people operate nurseries too. They not only grow different varieties of plants for transplanting but also import from Bengal, Maharashtra and other regions of the country. They supply it within Delhi as well as other states through online service.
But the flood caused them big loss and pain. “When floods hit us, I was in my hometown in UP. I called my three helpers but they couldn’t save the plants. I lost plants worth Rs 4-5 lakh. It is a big loss which will recover only over the next two years,” Mahmood alias Munna, 26, owner of ‘Khushbu Nursery’ shared his pain.
Originally from Unnao, he has been growing and selling plants for over seven years now.
After the floods, he is living with wife and only son in a polythene tent on the Noida-Link Road in Mayur Vihar-1. His land and house have been fully submerged as he indicates it with his hand. Now he is selling plants by the roadside along with others.
“To restart this business, I bought a truck of plants from Kolkata which arrived yesterday (July 23). I borrowed money to pay Rs 5.10 lakh for this. My work (sales) is good. I sell my plants locally and to hawkers too in Delhi,” he reveals further.
Munna is not alone. Kamlesh has also lost his plants. He, however, managed to save some. He is also selling them on the roadside along with Munna. “I have around 500 varieties. Some cost as much as Rs 3,000-4,000. We lost only the plants that we grew in Khadar. We managed to save those that we imported from other states. We faced a loss to the tune of Rs 1 lakh.”
He, however, says that the displacement has helped expose him to customers who were unwilling to go into Khadar.
Ved Prakash used to run ‘Ved Nursery’ beneath the metro pillar No. 70 in Yamuna Khadar. Before succumbing to death in a road accident in Mayur Vihar last Friday, the Bulandshahr native managed to save some plants and managed to bring them near the flyover on the Pushta.
The nursery is being looked after by Rajkumari who has been working for seven years, along with a relative.
Satyendra, who has been selling plants for over two decades, buys plants from nurseries and sells them in government schools and local areas on a bicycle.
“The flood also affected us. The price of plants is also soaring. Before the flood, the plant that cost Rs 20 is being sold to us for Rs 40 now. Our sales are getting affected,” he told Patriot.