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

JP advised RSS to give up Hindu Rashtra, disband itself: Ex-IAS officer tells Modi

Counterview Desk
Major MG Devasahayam IAS (Retd), chairman, People-First, in an open letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the occasion of Jayprakash Narain’s (JP’s) death anniversary (October 11) has wondered whether he remembers “a patriot called Jayaprakash Narayan”. Recalling what JP thought on issues such as communalism, freedom, democracy, Hindutva etc., Devasahayam says, Modi has been been doing “the very opposite of the principles and values for which JP lived and died.”

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

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".

UP chief secretary, DGP have 'surrendered' to political diktat: 92 retired IAS, IPS officials

Counterview Desk
In an open letter to Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath, 92 retired IAS, IFS and IPS bureaucrats, commenting on “blatant violations of the rule law” following the Hathras incident, have blamed that the Chief Secretary and the Director General of Police for abjectly failing to exercise control over a “highly compromised” administration the state.

Hathras reflects Manu's mindset dominates: 'Women are false, it's in their nature to seduce'

By Parijat Ghosh, Dibyendu Chaudhuri*
The woman died and then we woke up to protest. She was alive for two weeks after the heinous incident. Many of us even didn’t notice what had happened at Hathras, how she fought during the next 15 days. Those who noticed, many of them were not sure what actually had happened. So much so, we as a nation were more busy in finding out who among the Bollywood actresses were taking drugs, who smoked weed, who had ‘inappropriate’ or more than one relationship, what kind of private conversations they had in their chat boxes and what not!

Gujarat literati flutter: State Akademi autonomy curb a Sahitya Parishad poll issue?

By Dankesh Oza*
The 115-year-old Gujarati Sahitya Parishad is in election mode. More than 3,000 life members of the Parishad are set to elect its 52nd president and 40 plus central working committee (CWC) members, which in turn will elect its executive and two vice presidents, six secretaries and a treasurer for the coming three years (from 2021 to 2023).

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.

Atrocities against Dalits: Why don't MPs, MLAs from the community ever speak up?

By Vidya Bhushan Rawat*
In Gujarat, a young Dalit activist lawyer Devji Maheshwari, belonging to the Backward and Minority Communities Employees Federation (BAMSCEF) was killed in Surat, allegedly by a goon who was warning him against his Facebook posts not to speak up against Brahmanism. Facts have come to light suggesting there are other issues also which led to the murder, mostly related to land disputes, many a time ignored by activists.

Degrading conditions amidst Covid-19: Toxic ship at Alang, Gujarat, 'endangers' migrants

Counterview Desk
Evironmental activist Dr Gopal Krishna, who edits the ToxicsWatch journal, in an open letter to the chairman, Ship Breaking Scrap Committee, Union Ministry of Shipping, with copies to the joint secretary, Union Ministry of Shipping and other Government of India ministries* has said that there exists “threat to Indian maritime environment and security from viral diseases like Covid-19 from ballast water and toxic substances.”

Delhi riots: Even British didn't accuse Bhagat Singh of reading Lenin, Jack London

By Vikash Narain Rai*
After the #BlackLifeMatters movement seriously tested the credibility of police across America, the Houston police chief Art Acevado talked of ending “lawful but awful” policing. No comparison, but in India, a citizens’ committee comprising former top judges and bureaucrats is now set to inquire into the role of the state machinery and media in handling the February 2020 Delhi violence, which followed protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), “as the investigation by the Delhi Police has evoked extensive critical commentary in recent times.”