Skip to main content

Ahead of his satellite address, US-based NGO asks Gujarat CM to look into plight of salt-pan workers

By Our Representative
Ahead of his proposed address to 18 US cities via satellite, scheduled for May 12,  Association for India's Development (AID), a US and Canada-based NGO, has asked Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi to have a closer look at how vulnerable sections of society are suffering in his own state. In a letter to Modi  and state revenue minister Anandiben Patel, 54 AID volunteers, who support civil society efforts in India have asked him, in a signed letter, to urgently look into the plight of the salt pan workers in the Little Rann of Kutch. "You must already be aware of the recent untimely and heavy rainfall in the Little Rann of Kutch and surrounding areas", the letter reminds the CM.
"Over five inches of heavy rain had turned the desert into a large water body, trapping over 3,200 families, including families in the middle of the Rann", the letter says, adding, "The worst affected from this heavy downpour are the salt-pan workers, i.e. the agariya community, who live and work in the desert for 8-9 months of the year. The makeshift shelters that agariya families had been living in have been destroyed. Up to 80% (~500 tonnes) of their annual salt harvest, some of which was ready to be transported, has been irrecoverably lost. This has resulted in them enduring heavy economic losses".
It underlines, "Historically, unseasonal rains have always affected only small patches of land, and the damage borne by the Agariyas has been minimal. However, recently, the biggest losses arose from the irregular release of fresh water from Narmada into the Rann which has affected close to 1,000 families annually in the past. The damages were not only financial but seemingly environmental too as the fresh water might have been affecting the bird nesting sites and the migration routes of other animals in the desert."
It points out, "Now, due to the recent unseasonal rains, around 3,200 agariya families in Kharagoda and Santalpur, accounting for roughly one third of the population of these traditional salt pan workers in Gujarat, have been affected. The agariyas start every season by signing binding contracts with agents for capital in exchange for prefixed rates for purchase of salt produced at the end of the season. The amount involved ranges from Rs. 1-1.5 lakh. Although the agariyas produce more than 25 per cent of India’s salt, their bargaining power is limited, and they often earn as little as 12-15 paise per kilogram of salt. With their harvest washed away and the lack of any sort of insurance, the Agariyas will plunge into deeper debts this year."
Reminding the CM that "the Gujarat government has already taken cognizance of the struggles faced by the community through the establishment of an Empowered Committee for the welfare of the agariyas", the letter informs him that "AID has been involved with the agariya through maternal health, education and empowerment projects", hence, in light of the recent tragedy, it "requests" following urgent actions be taken: * Families who have lost their possessions and income in the rains should be provided with access to zero-interest credit in order to rebuild their lives. Government-issued identification cards can and should be used to make sure that this assistance reaches those who most need it.
* Salt production should be insured (as crops are) in order to mitigate such crises in the future.
In the long term, the government should facilitate a slow transition from a single crop to multi-crop pattern of salt in close collaboration with premier research institutes such as the Central Salt and Marine Chemicals Research Institute, Bhavnagar. This would minimize losses by reducing the volume of crops to be recovered at the end of the season."
* Release of fresh water from Narmada should be done in consultation with the agariya community to ensure that the best scheduling and local geographical wisdom be utilized to benefit everyone.

Comments

TRENDING

India under Modi among top 10 autocratizing nations, on verge of 'losing' democracy status

By Rajiv Shah
A new report, prepared by a top Swedish institute studying liberal democracy, has observed that there has been a sharp “dive in press freedom along with increasing repression of civil society in India associated with the current Hindu-nationalist regime of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.” The report places India among the top 10 countries that “have autocratized the most”. Other countries that have been identified for rolling towards autocracy are -- Hungary, Turkey, Poland, Serbia, Brazil, Mali, Thailand, Nicaragua and Zambia.

Savarkar 'criminally betrayed' Netaji and his INA by siding with the British rulers

By Shamsul Islam*
RSS-BJP rulers of India have been trying to show off as great fans of Netaji. But Indians must know what role ideological parents of today's RSS/BJP played against Netaji and Indian National Army (INA). The Hindu Mahasabha and RSS which always had prominent lawyers on their rolls made no attempt to defend the INA accused at Red Fort trials.

Border conflict? RBI nod India's 'brotherly' help to China internationalise its currency

By Bhabani Shankar Nayak*
In the middle of a global pandemic, China started an unprovoked border conflict with India. It unraveled trust deficit and ties between the two neighbours. As thousands of Chinese troops tried occupying Indian territory, the Narendra Modi-led BJP government directs the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to allow the Bank of China to start regular banking services in India. The Bank of China will now operate in India like any other commercial banks.

Gujarat link of controversial US doctor who 'forced' WHO quiz Trump's wonder drug

By Rajiv Shah
A top American doctor, Sapan Sharankishor Desai, born and raised in the “affluent” North Shore (Chicago) region of Illinois by Indian parents, at one point of time involved in NGO activity through  dedicated to “improving” the lives of the impoverished in Gujarat, is in the eyes of a major international storm following his paper (retracted) in a “Lancet” questioning Donald Trump-promoted drug hydroxychloroquine.

RSS supremo Deoras 'supported' Emergency, but Indira, Sanjay Gandhi 'didn't respond'

By Shamsul Islam*
National Emergency was imposed on the country by then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi on June 25-26, 1975, and it lasted for 19 months. This period is considered as ''dark times' for Indian democratic polity. Indira Gandhi claimed that due to Jaiprakash Narayan's call to the armed forces to disobey the 'illegal' orders of Congress rulers had created a situation of anarchy and there was danger to the existence of Indian Republic so there was no alternative but to impose Emergency under article 352 of the Constitution.

Clean chit to British rulers, Muslim League? Karnataka to have Veer Savarkar flyovers

By Shamsul Islam*
The BJP government of Karnataka led by BS Yediyurappa is going to honour Hindutva icon VD Savarkar by naming two of the newly built major flyovers in Bangalore and Mangalore after him. There was a huge uproar against this decision of the RSS-BJP government as many pro-Kannada organisations with opposition parties and liberal-secular organizations questioned the logic to ignore so many freedom fighters, social reformers and others from within the state.

Hurried nod to Western Ghat projects: 16 lakh Goans' water security 'jeopardised'

Counterview Desk
Taking strong exception to "virtual clearances" to eco-sensitive projects in the Western Ghats, the National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM) in a statement has said urged for a review of the four-lane highway, 400 KV transmission line and double tracking of the railway line through the Bhagwan Mahavir Wildlife Sanctuary and Mollem National Park in Goa.

Disturbing signal? Reliance 'shifting focus' away from Indian petrochemical sector

By NS Venkataraman*
Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL), a large Indian company, has expanded and grown in a spectacular manner during the last few decades, like of which no industrial group in India has performed before. RIL is now involved in multi various activities relating to petroleum refineries, petrochemicals, oil and gas exploration, coal bed methane, life sciences, retail business, communication network, (Jio platform) media/entertainment etc.

Letter to friends, mentors: Coming together of class, communal, corona viruses 'scary'

By Prof (Dr) Mansee Bal Bhargava*
COVID greetings from Ahmedabad to dear mentors and friends from around the world…
I hope you are keeping well and taking care of yourself besides caring for the people around you. I’m writing to learn how is the science and the society coping with the prevention and cure of the pandemic. I’m also writing to share the state of the corona virus that is further complicated with the long-standing class and communal viruses.