Skip to main content

Provide documentary evidence or vacate Rann of Kutch: Gujarat government notice to salt-pan workers

By Our Representative
After a lapse of three years, the Gujarat government has once again revived its plan to begin eviction of the salt-pan workers, or agariyas of the Little Rann of Kutch. Earlier, the notice was served on them in April 2011 (read HERE). The latest notice served on the agariyas reads, "You have been asked to submit documentary proof regarding salt making activity in the Little Rann of Kutch.” Quoting the Wild Life Protection Act, 1972, amended in 2002, the notice, given to thousands of agariyas, says that any activity in the sanctuary area of the Little Rann of Kutch “is termed prohibited and is liable to punishment from three to seven years of imprisonment, plus Rs 25,000 penalty.”
Giving the agariyas just about a week to provide the proof that they have been leased land in the Little Rann of Kutch to carry out salt producing activity, the notice says, “You are hereby given notice that if you have any documentary evidence submit it within seven days, or else you have to vacate the Rann of Kutch along with all your equipment of salt making.” The notice has been issued by the range forest officer, Wild Ass Sanctuary, Little Rann of Kutch.
The Agariya Hit Rakshak Manch (AHRM), which represents the salt-pan workers, in a statement has said, “On behalf of 12,000 to 15,000 agariya families, AHRM had made a representation to Gujarat’s tribal commissioner to initiate the process of recognizing agariyas’ customary community user rights over the Little Rann of Kutch as per the Forest Rights Act. The representation is still pending.” According to ARHM, the agariyas should be recognized as tribals, in the same way as the tribals of the eastern tribal belt of Gujarat.
It has added, “The fact to be noted is that, the Little Rann of Kutch is near 5,000 sq km of un-surveyed piece of land, and was recently given survey number zero. The Gujarat government too does not have any land records for the same. It is surprising that the state government is asking the agariyas to submit documentary evidence, while salt farming is being conducted in this area for the last 600 years.”
In 2011, a similar notice, served on the agariyas, said that they must evacuate from the Little Rann of Kutch, because they are "endangering the wild ass" in the sanctuary. Belonging to the Gujarat government's forest and revenue departments, officials reportedly went around, to take thumbs impression, from illiterate salt-plan workers on a paper which said they would be benefited under a certain so-called social welfare schemes. In actuality, these papers were an agreement of the salt-pan workers to be evicted of the Little Rann of Kutch.
Mainly belonging to the nomadic tribes, the agariyas have been involved in salt farming for the last several centuries, since the days of the Moghuls. The confusion has arisen, according to ARHM social workers, mainly because there is so far little effort to give a legal sanctity to the land on which the agariyas have been working on.
The agariyas, these social workers say, themselves do not have any document that they own the land on which they have been traditionally farming salt. Nor has there been any effort by the state revenue department so far to give a survey number to these pieces of land. As a result, there is “considerable confusion” about the ownership of the land and the agariyas are in the danger of losing their traditional means of livelihood.
In fact, the social workers suggest, there is little evidence that the salt-pan workers in any way try to interfere or are a danger to the wild ass, which moves around in the sanctuary, declared in 1973. If in 1973 there were just 720 wild asses in the sanctuary area, today their population has reached a whopping 5,000. At least one-fifth of the wild asses no more live in the sanctuary area but outside because of increase in their population. They live on the standing crop in these areas, often destroying it.

Comments

TRENDING

Communal rhetoric? Hindutva preached by RSS-BJP is 'monolithic', not Hinduism

By Prem Verma*  I am a devout Hindu but not a believer of RSS Hindutva form of Hinduism which brings about hatred of other religions. My Hindu religion has not taught me to look down on other religions and neither has it instilled in me to go about converting others to my religion because my religion is superior.

Gross 'injustice' to children: Rs 5000 cr cut in education budget; 15 lakh schools shut down

Counterview Desk  More than 100 dignitaries, including educationists, academia, social activists, teachers’ union, civil society organisations (CSOs), various networks and people working on child rights, in a letter to Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman have sought reversal of reduction in allocation for education in the Union Budget 2021-22, even as demanding substantial increase in it.

India sees 62 journo deaths, 4th highest, amidst pandemic: Swiss media rights body

By Our Representative The Switzerland-based media rights body Press Emblem Campaign (PEC) has noted that India is the fourth most affected country as far as mediapersons’ death on account of Covid-19 is concerned. According to Blaise Lempen, secretary-general of PEC, the global tally of casualties among media persons in the Covid-19 pandemic has reached 1,036 journalists in 73 countries till date.

Buddhist shrines massively destroyed by Brahmanical rulers in "pre-Islamic" era: Historian DN Jha's survey

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

RSS love for 'killer' Myanmar junta behind Indian military presence at Tatmadaw Day?

By Shamsul Islam*  If a shameful act means an action which is criminal and nauseating, it would be an understatement to describe the attitude of the present RSS-BJP rulers of India towards the demolition of democracy and large-scale killing of the people of Myanmar by the military ( tatmadaw ) junta which took power through a coup on February 1, 2021 after renegading the election results in which the party of Aung San Suu Kyi, National League for Democracy, was a clear winner.

Chhattisgarh’s Apra riverfront imitates Sabarmati: 'Devaluing' water, environment

Sabarmati riverfront By Mansee Bal Bhargava*  This year’s #WorldWaterDay (March 22) focus was on ‘Valuing Water’. My school friend, Pragati Tiwari from Bilaspur, Chhattisgarh, called that day knowing my interest in water matters. We were remembering our childhood days as how we used to play on the banks and the bed of the Arpa Nadi (River) during the summer holidays and as how the river would swell like Anaconda to flow happily during the monsoon.

Bihar massacre on Holi day: Brahminical, casteist mindset behind 'uneasy' silence

Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar By Vidya Bhushan Rawat*  Several people were killed in Bihar amidst Holi festivities, but not much response has come in from the media. The silence of the government and the society as a whole is also appalling. We seek to romanticise these festivals, yet we forget that every year they take so many lives. This despite the fact that Holi appears to be the best time for 'avenging things'.

India's draft migrants policy: Whither concern on job restrictions imposed by states?

By Anil Kumar*  India’s Niti Aayog has prepared a Draft Migration Policy. The draft policy acknowledges migration as an integral part of development, and it calls for positive government interventions that facilitate internal migration. With a rights-based solution to migration, the draft states that the policy should “enhance the agency and capability of the community and thereby remove aspects that come in the way of an individual’s own natural ability to thrive”.

Recalling Jallianwala martyrs' communal amity as BJP 'warns' of Sitalkuchi everywhere

By Shamsul Islam*  The RSS-BJP rulers declare India to be a battle-ground between Hinduism and Islam. Muslims have been declared as ‘internal threat’ by RSS ideologue MS Golwalkar (“Bunch of Thought”, Chapter xvi). Behaviour of many of their leading cadres, including those who hold high constitutional posts, is such that they seem to be conspiring over-time to ignite a civil war between the two communities. They are under the impression that this would help divert attention from failures of the Hindutva rulers on developmental front.