After braving bone-chilling cold for days, farmers protesting at various borders near Delhi were greeted by a spell of light rain on Saturday.
The spell of rainfall, though not heavy, was enough to cause chaos at the protest venues — turning the roads muddy, making them slippery and causing difficulties for protesting farmers to walk or ride their two-wheelers.
The farmers’ agitation entered 38th day on Saturday.
As the sun played hide-and-seek throughout the day, scores of volunteers and sanitation workers from Sonepat Municipal Corporation were seen removing the garbage and mud from the streets at the Singhu border.
The mattresses on which farmers sit and hear speeches of their leaders near the main stage got wet because of the rain. It delayed the day’s scheduled programmes on the stage. The volunteers had to either remove the wet mattresses or covered them with tarpaulin sheets to make the seating arrangements.
The rains mainly caused inconvenience to hundreds of volunteers involved in cooking, serving meals and providing other facilities to the protesting farmers at Singhu, Tikri, UP Gate and Chilla borders. Some of the tents, where meals are prepared and dry ration stored, started leaking and it delayed the cooking process, farmers at Singhu border said.
“Cooking meals also became tough as the wooden logs were stored on the streets and many of them became wet. We somehow managed with the dry wooden logs and cooking gas cylinders. But the real problem started when we started serving the meals. The mats on which we fed the people were completely drenched. People had to eat while standing on the muddy roads,” said Sahab Singh from Punjab’s Mansa, who is working as a volunteer at a Langar Sewa at the Singhu border.
As the mud on the roads became wet and slippery, farmers said that many of them slipped while walking or riding their motorcycles. Since the elderly farmers, women, and children were the most affected, some volunteers were seen helping them walk around the protest venue, even as some others were cleaning the roads using waters.
“To maintain hygiene in the tents being used for cooking, we connected pipes with the water tankers and taps installed at the nearby buildings and used it to clean the muddy streets. The walking space has remained muddy because it is difficult to spray water while people walk,” said Satnam Singh, another volunteer from Amritsar in Punjab.
A team of 30 sanitation workers from Sonepat Municipal Corporation were also deployed at the Singhu border for garbage collection and cleaning of roads. The workers said that lack of machines was making their task difficult.
“We only have brooms and it is difficult to clean the streets that are filled with mud and water,” said Sonu Singh, a sanitation worker.