Skip to main content

World Bank begins investigation into eviction of salt-pan workers in Gujarat following NGO complaint

By Our Representative
In an important move, the World Bank has begun investigation into the alleged neglect of the salt-pan workers by the Gujarat government in the Little Rann of Kutch (LRK). The investigation, which is proposed as a “research study”, follows a complaint by a non-government organization (NGO) Agariya Heet Rakshak Manch (AHRM), which told the World Bank in April (click HERE) that its multi-crore project for developing biodiversity in the Wild Ass Sanctuary in the LRK is being used by government officials to evict the agariyas from their land. AHRM has been working among the agariyas for the last several decades.
Revealing the purpose of the study, sources said, in its letter to AHRM’s Harinesh Pandya, the World Bank said, the effort of the study is to “estimate the economic value added in the salt industry production chain by salt workers/agariyas and other members of the production chain in the LRK.” Quoting from the letter, the sources added, the investigation will seek “credible, data-based estimates of this value added could help in recognizing and strengthening the contributions made by informal workers to the Indian salt industry.”
Those who are involved in the study include a team of World Bank officials based in Washington DC and New Delhi. The organizations involved are Self-Employed Women’s Association (SEWA), Ahmedabad, and AHRM. Apart from other issues, the study will focus on “current status of land rights” of agariyas. Among the list of queries sent to AHRM include details of challenges facing salt workers in Gujarat, particularly women in salt work, the status of settlement of land rights in LRK, and of health and educational facilities.
The World Bank wants to know if climate change has affected the agariyas, whether during focus group discussions, the agariyas have stated that in the last five years the rain has spoiled their produce, and what was the impact of flooding because of excessive rain in the recent past. One of the questions said, “Since more 84% of agariyas lack alternative employment, what should be the focus for improving the existing conditions of salt workers?”, and whether it was possible to provide them with “alternative livelihood.”
The World Bank also wants to know if “there has been any benefits to agariyas from the scheme for salt workers launched under the 12th Five Year Plan”, how could the scheme have been more effective, what is the current status of “the Salt Workers’ Welfare Bill, tabled in Parliament in 2012” and if the Bill could be “strengthened”. “Salt workers see the mandlis/cooperatives as being defunct. Do you have any views on their current operation and if/how they can be revived?”, the World Bank wonders.
The AHRM in its representation to the World Bank had complained against eviction notices served on them by the Gujarat government officialdom on agariyas. Sent to the Biodiversity Conservation and Rural Livelihood Improvement Project (BCRLIP) head of the World Bank, Anupam Joshi, the AHRM complaint said, 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 Harinesh Pandya, had 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 complaint said, “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 said.
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 said, 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.”

Comments

TRENDING

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.

Did Netaji turn blind eye to Japanese massacre while in Andaman during World War-II?

Dr Diwan Singh Kalepani museum off Chandigarh By Rajiv Shah  Did Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose ignore the massacre carried out by the Japanese army in Andaman and Nicobar islands during the Second World War? It would seem so, if one goes by the account of Mohinder Singh Dhillon, who authored a book in memory of his father, 'A Titan in the Andamans, Dr Diwan Singh Kalepani'. Dr Diwan Singh was tortured to death by the Japanese soldiers in the cellular jail in Andaman in 1944.

Sweden-backed study: India won't achieve 2030 UN goals, officials can't recognise SDG

By Rajiv Shah  A Swedish Society for Nature Conservation (SSNC)-sponsored study, carried out by the advocacy group Consumer Unity & Trust Society (CUTS) India, seeking to analyse the United Nation's Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) No 12, Responsible Consumption and Production (RCP), has regretted, it is "very unlikely" India will achieve any of the targets of SDG 12 by 2030 "unless some serious measures are taken by the government to reverse the present trend."

Savarkar 'opposed' Bhagat Singh's, Netaji's dream of India, supported British war efforts

By Shamsul Islam* In a shocking development, the student wing of the RSS put the busts of martyrs Bhagat Singh and Subhash Chandra Bose with Savarkar's on one pedestal at the University of Delhi late in the night on August 20, 2019. Bhagat Singh sacrificed his life for a socialist-democratic-secular republic and Netaji raised Azad Hind Fauj (INA) consisting of people of all religions and regions for armed liberation of India.

Why Church in India today needs a Rutilio Grande, martyred for stance on social justice

By Fr Cedric Prakash SJ*  For the people of El Salvador, January 22, 2022 will be more than just a red-letter day. Three of their sons, Jesuit Fr Rutilio Grande and his two lay associates 72-year-old Manuel Solorzano and 15-year-old Nelson Rutilio Lemus (and Italian Franciscan missionary Fr Cosme Spessotto who was also martyred) will be beatified in San Salvador.

'Dargah site was a temple': Claim in Gujarat following post-Babri verdict demands in UP

By Rajiv Shah  Will Gujarat also see demands to replace mosques and dargahs with Hindu temples? It would seem so, if a new fact-finding team conclusion is any indication. Apprehending the “danger” of communal conflagration, it has cited the claim on a 15th century dargah was originally a Hindu temple – allegedly quite on line with what has been happening in UP following the Supreme Court verdict on Babri Mosque.

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.

Modi's Gujarat 'ignores' India's biggest donor of Azad Hind Fauj, Dhoraji's Habib Sheth

By Dr Hari Desai* One surely feels happy that the statue of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose is being installed near the India Gate in New Delhi. Every Indian and even Netaji’s 79-year-old daughter Prof Anita Bose Pfaff feels happy about the statue at the most important area of the capital. In an interview with an Indian TV, Anita, who is a German citizen, mentions that she thinks if not Netaji’s only Mahatma Gandhi’s statue should have been there. She may be aware that there existed a plan to install life-sized statue of the Father of the Nation at that place.  Even after differences with Mahatma Gandhi and Sardar Patel which led Netaji to leave the Indian National Congress, Bose was the first person to call Mahtma Gandhi Father of the Nation on July 6,1944 in his Ragoon Radio broadcast, and sought Bapu’s blessings as the Supreme Commander of the Indian National Army (INA). Till 1968 there was statue of King George V at India Gate. It was removed and placed in the Coronation Park, New Del

Is it time to celebrate India's 'improved' sex ratio? Reasons to question NFHS data

By Aditi Chaudhary*  The recently published National Family Health Survey (NFHS) factsheet brought cheers amongst the public and the government. With Child Sex ratio (number of females per 1000 males in the age group 0 - 6 years) and overall sex ratio (the total number of females per 1000 males), both showing an improvement, NFHS-5 (2019-21) got applauded by all around.

Stop harassment, release Kashmir rights defender Khurram Parvez: Global NGO

By Our Representative  Ahead of his hearing on January 21, 2022, CIVICUS , a global civil society alliance with more than 10,000 members worldwide, has called upon the Government of India to “immediately and unconditionally” release human rights defender Khurram Parvez. “The judicial harassment he is facing highlights the repressive environment for activists and critics in Indian administered Jammu and Kashmir”, it said in a statement.