The exodus of migrant labourers from Punjab to their native states will adversely impact the state's industrial and farm sectors, fear industry representatives and farmers.
Their apprehensions emerged after more than 8 lakh migrant workers got themselves registered for going back to their home states.
The Centre is running 'Shramik' trains to ferry migrants to their respective home states as they were stranded in other states because of the lockdown.
Onkar Singh Pahwa, the president of All India Cycle Manufacturers Association on Thursday said the availability of minimum workforce is a prerequisite for the purpose of resumption of industry.
He said the Centre has allowed only stranded migrants to be sent back home. But now even those labourers who are not stranded are getting tempted for registration to return to their home states because of the availability of free rail travel, he further said.
It is inexplicable that the governments did not foresee the current exodus, triggered by the desperation of the workforce, which is not stranded, Pahwa said.
"If bulk migration of workers is not stopped then Punjab will be ruined economically," said Rahul Ahuja, the chairman of the Punjab unit of industry body CII.
Gurmeet Singh Kular, the president of Federation of Industrial and Commercial Organisations, said the migration of workers will prove to be a death knell for industrial activities in the state.
"There was not even a single death in the state due to hunger. Thus, the propaganda of non-supply of the ration is false and motivated," he said on Thursday.
D S Chawla, the President of the United Cycle and Parts Manufacturers Association, said the bulk migration of workers will turn out to be counterproductive for the industry as it will not allow industrial activities to restart.
Representatives of All India Cycle Manufacturers Association, Chamber of Industrial & Commercial Undertakings, Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and FICO on Thursday appealed to the Centre and state governments to stop the exodus of workers.
They also said the state government should reach out to migrant workers to provide whatever assistance they require.
Majority of migrant labourers who work in Punjab are from Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Jharkhand.Meanwhile, farmers are equally worried over the fate of paddy sowing which will start next month.
Paddy growers said it is going to be a difficult task of paddy transplantation in the wake of labour shortage. Sowing paddy seedlings will be costlier, they added.
Sukhdev Singh Khokri Kalan, general secretary, Bhartiya Kisan Union (Ekta Ugrahan) said at least 50 per cent labour which works in paddy sowing season in Punjab is from other states.
"Labour is going to be scarce and costly. Farmers will bear the burden of extra financial burden. We appeal to government to allow paddy transplanting now from June 1 so that farmers get time to complete sowing in time and yield is not affected," he said.
Paddy transplanting machines are rarely used because most farmers do not have them and moreover, it will be expensive to use them on rent.
He said the government must make these machines available to small and marginal farmers through cooperative societies.
Paddy is sown over 30 lakh hectares area in Punjab.