Agartala: With the announcement of national lockdown by the Central government and sealing of the international border between India and Bangladesh, 23,000 farmers in Tripura involved in 5,000 hectares of agricultural land behind the fence along the zero are now staring at losses amid COVID-19 crisis.
Nepal Sarkar, a 46-year-old farmer from a bordering village Camper Bazar in West Tripura district has 2 kani (0.793 acres) of agricultural land behind the international border but due to the lockdown he is not allowed to harvest the crop.
Speaking with EastMojo, Sarkar said that due to the national lockdown, the border gates were sealed and the entry and exit of people were restricted by the Border Security Force (BSF) troops.
“I am unable to cross the border and harvest my crops which I had grown on the other side of the fencing. Most of the crops must have got rotten by now, as I was unable to harvest them. I have faced huge losses due to this lockdown,” Sarkar said.
Another farmer, Apu Sarkar, 37, of Laxmipur village said that he has not visited his fields since the announcement of national lockdown. “I had written a letter to the officials of BSF seeking permission to allow us to visit our agricultural fields. However, till date, no official communication has been made by them. We are worried about our survival now,” Apu said.
Like Apu and Nepal, many other farmers who have suffered the losses following the national lockdown felt that it was necessary to keep everyone safe but they are also worried about overcoming their losses.
Speaking with EastMojo, BSF public relations officer (PRO) C L Belwa said that the government has ordered to maintain a complete lockdown and nobody is allowed to go behind the fence.
“If the farmers have free excess to meeting with Bangladeshi people, there will be a risk of getting infected; therefore, the order of the Centre is being implemented strictly. The civil administration is also aware of this fact and they are arranging essential commodities and mobile ATMs, among others, for them in front of the gate,” Belwa added.
Reacting to the matter, agriculture minister Pranajit Singha Roy said that the government has given some relaxation to the industrial sector to start the work. We informed the Union minister that in Tripura about 5,000 hectares of land fall behind the fence involving more than 2,300 farmers of our state.
“In a recent meeting with the chief secretary and other officials and we directed the authorities to take required measures so that the farmers can visit their agricultural fields. Even the Prime Minister wants agricultural work to continue by maintaining social distancing,” Singha Roy said.
The state government has received Rs 40 crore under Krishak Saman Nidhi Scheme on April 10 which would be used for the development of the agriculture sector, Singha Roy added.