The village of Dhaana appears deserted. Migrant workers, constituting almost half of the population of this village in Manesar, Haryana, are nowhere to be found and are expected to return only after the situation in the Maruti Suzuki plant is sorted out.
Much like an urban centre, The demography of the village is similar to Delhi. Natives live ingrained with migrants, both complementing each other. But now Dhaana village is experiencing how it feels without migrants.
“The village is facing a loss of at least Rs 10 lakh per day,” said Rajkumar, son of Dhaana village sarpanch Moorha Ram, about the Maruti unrest. “We will fall flat if the plant is shifted.”
The talk of Maruti shifting production from Manesar, Haryana, to Gujarat has given rise to a sense of insecurity in the 50 odd villages in Manesar, scattered around the plant.
In 2002, the Haryana government acquired 3,000 acres of land for the plant from the villagers at the rate of Rs 2.25 lakh per acre, said Rajkumar. “It was peaceful. There was hardly any resistance.”
The deal changed the dynamics of the villages, in more than one form. Once production at the plant started, the company said it would not hire locals as they would create regular disturbances at the plant, said Rajkumar.
So with its newly acquired wealth, majority of the villagers either purchased land in close vicinity or started businesses that were auxiliary services to the plant, or catered to the plants workforce, who came from other parts of the country.
Many of them, like Rajkumar, forayed into the transport business, supplying manufactured cars to showrooms.
Others opened teashops, provisional stores, cyber cafes, movie rental libraries and mobile phone showrooms. And almost all of them added between one and three floors to their buildings; sliced them into tiny rooms and rented them out to the sea of workers who trooped into Manesar from all over India.
Satya Narayan of village Baans Pur, Manesar, is a landlord to 400 workers who live in 50 such rooms at Rs 2,000 per month each. His tenants hail from Jajjhar, Hisar and Rohtak districts in Haryana. Not a single worker, said Narayan, has returned to his room since the unrest at the plant, which gives him his ‘rozi roti’. “We will make all possible efforts to make sure that the plant is not shifted,” he said.
Workers from the Maruti plant are also regulars at ‘Bhagwat ka dhaba’- a vegetarian restaurant run by Bhagwat Prasad. At 5 pm on a normal day, workers throng his joint for their daily dose of ‘chai’ and ‘matthi’.
These days, Bhagwat and his staff are found playing cards around this time. “Minor clashes are usual and cannot be avoided at any factory of this size. But this time it looks serious. All my customers are gone,” said Prasad.
Prasad has a bigger worry though. His elder son is pursuing a diploma course in electrical engineering from a government institute in Rohtak. Though Prasad lives a few steps away from the Maruti plant, he said, it was unfortunate that his son would never get employed with the company.
“Being local is a curse here. There are no jobs for us. But let me tell you that this will change now since the company has realised what havoc these outsiders can create,” said Prasad.
Unlike previous decades when the villagers made peace with the fact that Maruti like factories would not hire local youth, voices are raising for their employment. It was one of the demands made by the Mahapanchayat conducted on Monday which saw representatives of around 100 odd villages.
The Mahapanchayat also demanded that the Maruti violence be probed by the CBI, and asked the government should make sure that the plant is not relocated.