Skip to main content

Gujarat government's eviction notice to saltpan workers to "adversely affect" World Bank's biodiversity project

Wild ass in the Little Rann of Kutch
By Our Representative
The Agariya Heet Rakshak Manch (AHRM), which works among poor saltpan workers in the Little Rann of Kutch (LRK), has represented to the World Bank against recent eviction notices served on them by the Gujarat government officialdom. Sent to the Biodiversity Conservation and Rural Livelihood Improvement Project (BCRLIP) head of the World Bank, Anupam Joshi, who sits in the bank’s New Delhi office, the AHRM letter says, the “drastic step of eviction warning without community consultation will lead to serious impact on the well being and livelihood of large population from 150 villages on the periphery of the LRK”.
The agariyas are an important beneficiary of the World Bank-funded India biodiversity project, currently being implemented in the LRK. The main task of the project is to fulfill a “growing realization that the only way to address security of biodiversity is through large spatial scale of landscapes around protected areas (PAs) and addressing biodiversity conservation through the principles of landscape ecology that considers people and their activities as the cornerstone of landscape conservation”, a World Bank document says.
Suggesting that eviction cannot help resolve biodiversity issues, the World Bank, while preparing the project report, had insisted, “It has been realized that in countries like India where a large number of people continue to depend on forest resources for their subsistence and livelihoods, one of the keys to successful conservation lies in involving local communities in natural resource management. Among the many requirements of sustained involvement are development of economic, institutional and policy incentives in the form of sustainable livelihoods, tenurial security and capacity development.”
Asking the World Bank to keep this main project direction in mind, the letter, signed by AHRM director Harinesh Pandya has sought the bank’s “urgent attention” to the “eviction notices given to agariyas in LRK.” Calling it a “sudden development in context of agariyas’ livelihood in LRK”, Pandya reminds Joshi that “agariyas belong to denotified and nomadic tribes and salt farming is their traditional source of livelihood”. They “migrate to LRK for making salt during September and return in April, once salt is harvested.”
The letter says, “During migration period, they reside in small make-shift shelter. The areas where communities make salt is around 2.3 per cent of the LRK. Around 8,000 to 10,000 families are into salt farming in the LRK. Salt farming in the LRK is carried out fully by traditional method and with human labour. Crystal salt made by community is organic and has been identity to these denotified and nomadic tribes.”
Suggesting that they are in no way a threat to the wild ass, a rare species currently found only in the LRK, the letter claims, “Agariyas and wildlife show great co-existence here in the LRK. It is one of most successful example of community conservation of wild life, with no conflict. In the last 30 years, there are no cases of human-wildlife conflict in the LRK. Eventually wild ass population has increased from mere 700 to 5000.”
“We also need to take note that salt farming in the LRK has history of 600 years. However, government did not survey this piece of land. There no documentary records and thus land was given single survey no zero. The government has not been clear about its jurisdiction, and recently the whole area was put under the Kutch district collectorate”, the letter says.
Pointing out that the community has made representation to the state tribal department for recognizing their customary community user rights (CCUR) under the forest rights Act in the Wild Ass Sanctuary and this representation is pending for consideration, the letter says, the recent eviction notices to agariays in the LRK seeks “documentary evidences” of their customary right to produce salt, “or else they have to face imprisonment.”
The notices have been served during the “salt harvesting time for the communities” and “eviction notices at this point of time will lead huge economic loss to the agariyas, and will lead to conflict”, the letter says, warning the World Bank, this will only “harm the BCLRIP Programme. Instead there should be dialogue with the communities at workplace, to share the details of programmes like that of BCLRIP.”
Offering help, Pandya has said, AHRM will “be more than happy to facilitate/associate such process of conducting dialogue with community giving them correct information about BCLRIP which will not only help in removing fear in the minds of community but will lead increase in mutual trust between community and the forest department. On behalf of communities we are bringing this to the notice of the World Bank, for your prompt action and request you to intervene appropriately to avoid any further conflicts.”

Comments

TRENDING

132 Gujarat citizens, including IIM-A faculty, others declare solidarity with Kashmiris

Counterview Desk
A week after it was floated, 132 activists, academics, students, artists and other concerned citizens of Gujarat, backed by 118 living in different parts of India and the world, have signed a "solidarity letter" supporting the people of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), who, it claims, have been silenced and held captive in their own land. The signatories include faculty members and scholars of the prestigious Indian Institute of Management-Ahmedabad (IIM-A).

Amit Shah 'wrong': Lack of transparency characterized bank frauds, NPAs, jobs data

Counterview Desk
India's senior RTI activists Nikhil Dey, Anjali Bhardwaj, Venktesh Nayak, Rakesh Reddy Dubbudu, Dr. Shaikh Ghulam Rasool, Pankti Jog and Pradip Pradhan, who are attached with the National Campaign for Peoples' Right to Information (NCPRI), have said that Union home minister Amit Shah's claim that the Government of India is committed to transparency stands in sharp contrast to its actual actions.

Untold story of Jammu: Business 'down', students fear lynching, teachers can't speak

By Rajiv Shah
A just-released report, seeking to debunk the view that people in Jammu, the second biggest city of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) after Srinagar, people had gone “out celebrating” abrogation of Article 370 which took away the state’s special status, has reported what it calls “abominably high levels of fear” across all sections in the town.

Success of 'political' Hinduism: Kashmiris being depicted as antagonists of rest of India

By Anand K Sahay*
There are times in history when facts call attention to themselves; they assert their independence in all its amplitude and are in no need of the crutch of interpretation. Such a moment is visible in Kashmir now. Merely by being on the table, the facts there taunt the regime’s proclamations.

Gujarat's incomplete canals: Narmada dam filled up, yet benefits 'won't reach' farmers

By Our Representative
Even as the Gujarat government is making all out efforts to fill up the Sardar Sarovar dam on Narmada river up to the full reservoir level (FRL), a senior farmer rights leader has said the huge reservoir, as of today, remains a “mirage for the farmers of Gujarat”.
In a statement, Sagar Rabari of the Khedut Ekta Manch (KEM), has said that though the dam’s reservoir is being filled up, the canal network remains complete. Quoting latest government figures, he says, meanwhile, the command area of the dam has been reduced from 18,45,000 hectares (ha) to 17,92,000 ha.
“According to the website of the Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Ltd, which was last updated on Friday, while the main canal, of 458 km long, has been completed, 144 km of ranch canals out of the proposed length of 2731 km remain incomplete.
Then, as against the targeted 4,569 km distributaries, 4,347 km have been constructed, suggesting work for 222 km is still pending. And of the 15,670 km of minor canal…

Ceramic worker dies: 20,000 workers in Thangadh, Gujarat, 'risk' deadly silicosis

By Our Representative
Even as the country was busy preparing for the Janmashtami festival on Saturday, Hareshbhai, a 46-year-old ceramic worker from suffering from the fatal lung disease silicosis, passed away. He worked in a ceramic unit in Thangadh in Surendranagar district of Gujarat from 2000 to 2016.
Hareshbhai was diagnosed with the disease by the GCS Medical College, Naroda Road, Ahmedabad in 2014. He was found to be suffering from progressive massive fibrosis. He is left behind by his wife Rekha sister and two sons Deepak (18) and Umesh (12),
The death of Hareshbhai, says Jagdish Patel of the health rights group Peoples Training and Research Centre (PTRC), suggests that silicosis, an occupational disease, can be prevented but not cured, and the Factory Act has sufficient provisions to prevent this.
According to Patel, the pottery industry in the industrial town of Thangadh has evolved for a long time and locals as well as migrant workers are employed here. There are abou…

Kashmiris in a civil disobedience mode, are going against 'diktat' to open shops

Counterview Desk
A team of concerned citizens, including Ludhiana-based psychiatrist and writer Anirudh Kala, Mumbai-based activist and public health professional Brinelle Dsouza, Delhi-based journalist and writer Revati Laul, and social activist Shabnam Hashmi, travelled to Kashmir and Jammu to understand the impact of the abrogation of Article 370 and the subsequent security clampdown and communication blockade on the lives of the people of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K).