Indicating that they need no intention of vacating the protest site anytime soon, farmers at Singhu border have erected shelters — sheds with metal frames and bamboo huts — fitted with air-coolers or air-conditioners (ACs) to tackle Delhi’s searing summer.
Even tractor trolleys, which became a well-known fixture at the border area, are fitted with air-coolers or ACs.
There also are RO water filters and water coolers, and most langars are now equipped with refrigerators. The menu at the langars, which serve hundreds a day , has changed too, with khichdi giving thanks to roti, and lassi being made available through the day.Jasbeer Singh (38), a farmer from Fatehgarh Sahib, involves the protest site “in rotation” like most others. He stays during a shed with an iron frame – the metal rods were brought from Punjab – which has an air-cooler and a refrigerator.
“The walls are made from green net which is employed in nurseries. It protects us from mosquitoes and provides ventilation. We opted for a thatch because it keeps the place cool,” he said, adding that they draw electricity from nearby villages.
Jasbeer said he grows rice and wheat in his six-acre land, and can head home to tend to his fields during a few days. He said another batch of farmers from the district will replace him et al. .
Aman Singh (25) from Firozpur has been at the location together with his grandfather since the protest began in November-end last year. His father and brother lookout of the work back home. Aman said his heart is within the fields, but “farming and protesting are equally important. If we don’t work, there’ll be nothing to eat today. But if we don’t protest, there’ll be nothing for tomorrow.”
About 50 people from his district have found out three structures fitted with air-coolers or air-conditioners – a bamboo shelter, a shelter with steel frames and a trolley around which they need built a wooden structure.
Aman said the trolley is that the most comfortable because it cools the fastest. The roof of the opposite two structures, made with tarpaulin sheets, came off during Thursday night’s rain and squall.
On Friday afternoon, while most sought shelter from the warmth in their respective sheds, Sonpal Singh (55) was overseeing the development of a replacement shelter. He said the iron frames were sourced from Punjab, while a number of the opposite materials were purchased from shops near the Singhu border.
While most “accommodations” have air-coolers or fans, farmers said the availability of electricity is erratic. Several appliances like RO water filters are donated by well-wishers and organizations. Some farmers said the protest has burnt a hole in their pockets. “My family has already spent around Rs 5 lakh since last year. it’s becoming hotter and that we will need better shelters with ACs. we’ll be spending another Rs 4 lakh,” said a Punjab-based farmer. He added that the elderly protesters “deserve the comfort”.Despite the new challenges, most of the protesters reiterated that they might not leave until the farm laws are repealed. Police estimate that there are 10,000-15,000 protesters at the Singhu border at the present.