Roadblock due to farmers’ protest at Singhu hits nursery business (Ld)

After the months-long lockdown due to the Covid-19 pandemic, 35-year-old Manjur Alam was expecting customers at his plant nursery, however, the farmers’ protest at Singhu border has prolonged his agony.

Alam, a resident of South 24 Parganas in West Bengal, told IANS he was expecting his business to pick up from November but the farmers’ protest has led to the Delhi-Chandigarh national highway being blocked.

His nursery which is located one-and-a-half km away from the Singhu protest site, has been waiting for customers but police barricades have blocked the road.

“After the January 26 violence, police barricades have been put up at Singhola village and since then we are sitting idle without selling even a single plant,” said Alam.

Pointing towards his nursery, Alam said, “During the lockdown, the business was completely shut and we were hopeful sale of plants and flowers would restart from November but the farmers’ protest has became a hindrance. We bring seeds of flowers and plants from West Bengal or Pune and grow them here.”

“We have to bring saplings from outside and grow them here. We cannot keep these plants for a long period because many of them have a fixed period of survival. Keeping these plants is challenging also because of Delhi’s water quality,” he said.

He added, “Not a single plant has been sold since the farmer protests began here. It takes around Rs 40,000 to 45,000 per month for maintenance of nursery, including, labour for gardening, electricity and many other expenses. The process of growing plants starts from August to October and from November plants are ready for sale.”

He said that the plant nursery was set up by his father in 1984 in Singhu village which is located along the road where farmers have been sitting on protest against the Centre’s three farm laws.

Alam said, “We used to sell plants earning Rs 1 lakh to 1.50 lakh per month but this year we are yet to receive a single customer. I have no idea how long this will go on and we have to wait for business to resume.”