Skip to main content

Funds cruch in Gujarat has hit drinking water supply to agariya salt producers in Little Rann of Kutch: Govt officials

By Pankti Jog*
The Gujarat government may take pride in organizing Rannotsav, or festival of deserts, in the Rann of Kutch and for giving best of hospitality to the visitors coming from across the world. However, facts have come to light suggesting that it has failed to set up a mechanism which can ensure regular drinking water supply to the nomadic tribes residing inside the Rann.
Virtually no effort has been done to survey the Little Rann of Kutch to find out if there is any drinking water source in the area. An official document characterizes it as “survey number zero”. However, those who are familiar with the Rann say, the grounwater salinity level in the saline desert is five to six times higher than sea water. 
Not without reason, every year around 10,000 to 12,000 agariya (salt producing) families from around 250 villages of Surendrnagar, Patan, Morbi, and Kutch districts migrate to the Little Rann of Kutch to harvest salt, which is their sole source of living.
Agariyas work hard in scorching heat for eight months to farm salt. They have made no demand for loan packages for salt making, like industrialists, who sign up memorandums of understanding (MoUs) with the government at Vibrant Gujarat business summits.
In fact, they have not even expected the government to provide them with any road or transport facility.
All that they expect from the government is to send a tanker of drinking water for at least once a week. But the state government, which spends crores on investment summit festivals involving indusrialists, says there is no budget provision for supplying drinking water to them.
To a recent query, the Radhanpur circle office of the water supply department, situated just outside the borders of the Rann, informed the agariyas that their office does not have “enough funds” for supplying fresh water to the neighbouring agariyas working in the Santalpur region of Rann.
Hence, they were told, it could not supply drinking water supply to them – something they were doing three years ago.
On further inquiry, they were informed that the Industries Commissioner's Office of the Gujarat government has not sanctioned budget for supplying drinking water to the agariyas.
For the last three years, 1,100 agariya families of the region spend Rs 9,600 per season per family to get drinking water from private water suppliers. The total expense incurred by the poor agariyas for purchasing drinking water comes to a whopping Rs 3.16 crore!
“Supplying water to the Rann areas is not the responsibility of the water supply department. We need extra budget for the Rann. Lack of funds forced us to stop water supply,” said an official of the state water supply department.
On the other hand, a state industries department official argued that water supply is the primarily responsibility of the respective department, and it can “only partially support” the agariyas in this respect.
The Agariya Heet Rakshak Manch (AHRM) has made several representations to the district and state officials, asking them to make a comprehensive scheme and share expenses, if required, so that drinking water is supplied to the Rann.
Agreeing to the AHRM suggestion, the water supply and industries departments have agreed in principle to share expenses on a 60:40 basis to supply drinking water.
Harinesh Pandya of AHRM says, “Like a shuttle cock, the task of supplying water to agariyas is being thrown between two departments for a long time. If the government fails to resolve the issue now, the agariyas will be forced to take the matter to the court.”
---
*With Agariya Heet Rakshak Manch, Gujarat

Comments

TRENDING

Modi, Shah 'forget': Gandhi’s first Satyagraha was against citizenship law of South Africa

By Nachiketa Desai*
Hindu fanatic Nathuram Godse assassinated Mahatma Gandhi once on January 30, 1948 but his followers raising the war cry of ‘Jai Sriram’ are killing the Mahatma every day. In his home state of Gujarat, Gandhiji was killed a thousand times in 2002 when over 2,000 Muslims were butchered, their women raped, homes and shops plundered and set on fire and even unborn babies ripped out of the wombs of their mothers.

Union Budget 'moves away' from Right to Education, 1.3 lakh schools closed down

By Dr Aparajita Sharma*
It was a shocking reply by the Union human resource development minister to a question raised in Parliament on closure of schools in a country where lakhs of children are still out of school. On December 2, the minister, Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’, told Lok Sabha that the NITI Aayog’s education project, Sath-E, has led to 35,996 schools of different levels being merged in Madhya Pradesh, 4,312 in Jharkhand and 1,803 in Odisha. NITI Aayog is the Central Government’s policy think-tank.

CAA-NPR-NRC will 'target' 99% homeless, who are without birth certificates: NCU

Counterview Desk
Claiming to base on a survey in five states (Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu), which finds that over 99% of the homeless people do not have birth certificates, a civil rights organization which networks activists, researchers, urban practioners, lawyers, informal sector workers, has claimed that the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), as also the proposed National Register of Citizens (NRC) and the National Population Register (NPR), are likely to adversely impact this section the most.

Modi 'warned': Will not remain silent when women are labelled terrorists and traitors

Counterview Desk
As many as 13 women's rights organizations and 162 individuals have issued an open letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi stating that in the light of hate speeches during Delhi elections, especially directed against women, it is his "Constitutional duty to protect all citizens" and tell his partymen "to fight the elections in a manner that upholds the Constitution, not one that increases the fear and insecurity among women."

Law 'governing' world's tallest Statue of Unity refers to local tribals as occupiers

By Rohit Prajapati, Krishnakant*
The recently enacted Statue of Unity (SoU) Area Development and Tourism Governance Act, 2019 in Gujarat comes amidst a terrifying atmosphere of intimidation, house arrests, detentions and FIRs, not to mention the overarching implementation of Section 144 across the state.

Trump in Ahmedabad: Did Modi display servile colonial mindset towards gora sahib?

By Rajiv Shah
Donald Trump left Ahmedabad for Agra to "enjoy" the Mughal monument Taj Mahel in the afternoon on Monday, leaving behind scores of huge billboards standing across the megacity showcasing larger than life images of the US president and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, some of them boldly captioned: “Two strong leaders of two strong democracies”.

Ramchandra Guha on how Gandhi outgrew his Gujarati bania 'parochialism'

By Rajiv Shah
More than a fortnight ago, prominent historian Ramchandra Guha, who calls himself Gandhi scholar and not a Gandhian, came to Ahmedabad. While I was part of a small group of persons who met him at lunch, his lecture on Gandhi in the evening, where he sought to interpret what swaraj meant to Gandhi, surely, interested the selected audience that had been called to listen to him.

Union Budget: 24 crore people live in the dark, Sitharaman talks of prepaid smart meters

Counterview Desk
The Centre for Financial Accountability (CFA), a Delhi-based advocacy group, commenting on the Union budget 2020-21, has has called it a case of missing wood for the trees, pointing out, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman "missed an opportunity to fix the economy, which is reeling under an unprecedented slowdown, with all indices pointing towards a recession."

Ironical? Hindutva is all 'fire and spite', as Muslim women become apostles of peace

By Sandeep Pandey*
On January 26, Republic Day, 2020, while protests simmered against Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and National Register of Citizens (NRC) throughout India, a dozen North American cities also witnessed historic protests. Indian Embassies have been witness to protests in the past. But this time it was different.