The crop procurement season has set in and, according to a rough estimate by commission agents and labour contractors, about 2,500 to 3,000 labourers, including about 200 women, besides about 1,500 to 2,000 farmers are likely to be in the grain market here daily for about a month or even more. But, there are only three toilets to cater to their needs. A total of seven toilets have been approved to be set up in the market but four are yet to be constructed.
The main grain market has only one toilet in a corner of the market, the two others are at located in another yard near the vegetable market on the Ferozpur road and none at the new grain market yard for which two toilets have been approved.
The drinking water facility is a bit better though not satisfactory in all part of the grain market.
Even in the main yard, the market committee has provided drinking water and one bathroom at the same place without taking care of the issue of hygiene.
As the revenue of the Mandi board dwindled over the past years with the abolition of 2% rural development fund, the board is allegedly not in a position to provide basic facilities in the grain markets.
"About 2,500 to 3,000 labourers are at work during every season, but there is hardly any toilet facility in the main grain market here. There is only one toilet for women, but it remains dirty and is most of the time not fit to be used. There is also one toilet for thousand of labourers and farmers," said Gurjant Singh, president of the labour union in the grain market, Faridkot.
The farmers alleged that the market officials lock the toilet in the evening and unlock it only in the morning.
"There are only two toilets in the yard near the vegetable market, but one of them is yet to be cleaned to make it worthy of use. We have to go to a far off section of the grain market to take bath late at night after finishing our work," said Jaikrishan Yadav and Shambhu Yadav, both migrants from Bihar, who have come to work as labourers in the grain market.
The lack of toilets not only makes the surroundings of the market dirtier, but also belies the tall claims of the Mandi board and the government of providing all basic facilities to farmers.
"The new section of the grain market, completed only a few years ago, has nothing in the name of basic facilities," said Gurjant Singh.
"The government must provide the basic facilities such as toilets and washrooms for farmers and workers as they have to stay here for many days every six months to sell their produce. It turns out be a nightmarish experience for us," some farmers said.
"We are facing the problem of funds; however, the work on laying a new sewerage in the grain market is on. We are also going to recarpet the roads in the grain market, but toilets would be constructed afterwards when we get funds. We can also not exceed the number of toilets as only seven toilets have been approved," said Neeraj Sharma, secretary, market committee, Faridkot.