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

Hindus to be 'sent' to Kashmir? Despite Israeli settlements, peace eludes the region

By Anand K Sahay*
Curfew, news and communications blackout, transportation shut-down... News reports from Kashmir are worrying. So are the views relayed through the media, especially television. Old-fashioned repression seems to be consorting comfortably with expressions of concern “for our Kashmiri brethren”. We are looking at Orwell’s 1984 in the making.

Impact of state repression? Kashmir's 65% people prefer independence: Cambridge study

By Rajiv Shah 
Even as the Government of India’s controversial move to abrogate Article 370 of the Constitution and bifurcate Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) into two union territories is not only refusing to down die but has acquired international dimensions, a recent study, published by the Cambridge University Press, has claimed “pro-independence attitudes” among that 65% of Kashmiris, warning, this sentiment worsens when the state machinery resorts “repressive violence”.

Congress' anti-democratic laws led to Modi govt's 'Constitutional' changes: Scholars

Counterview Desk
A large number of academics* said to be belonging to several Indian and international institutions, even as taking strong exception to the Narendra Modi government's alleged move to amend the Constitution through "illegitimate" means, have taken strong exception to their colleagues in academia who we have become "all too accustomed to adopting a calculated silence in the face of such indignities."

Dholera 'inundated': Gujarat govt tries selling low lying area as top smart city site

Counterview Desk
Even as the Dholera Special Investment Region Regional Development Authority (DSIRDA) of the Gujarat government was busy organising a junket for Gujarat-based journalists for the area sought to be sold as an ideal special investment region (SIR) for industrialists, well-known farmers' activist Sagar Rabari has wondered why no investor has so far agreed to put in money in an area situated in Ahmedabad district along the Gulf of Khambhat.

Kashmir normal? Schoolboys, teenagers being arbitrarily picked up, detained: Report

Counterview Desk
A four-person team, consisting of Jean Dr├Ęze, well-known development economist; Kavita Krishnan, who is with the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist); Maimoona Mollah of the All India Democratic Women's Association (AIDWA); and Vimal Bhai of the National Alliance of People's Movements (NAPM), back from a five-day fact-finding mission (August 9-13) from Kashmir, has said that people they spoke to “expressed their pain, anger, and sense of betrayal against the Government of India.”
In a report, “Kashmir Caged”, released along with a short eight-minute film, they said, the abrogation of Articles 370 and 35A, dissolution of the state of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), and bifurcating it into two Union Territories, is not being supported by anyone they met, except for BJP spokesperson on Kashmir affairs Ashwani Kumar Chrungoo, who claimed 46% vote share in J&K.
Excerpts from the report: When our flight landed, and the airlines staff announced that passeng…

Modi's Gujarati mind? Why govt move to 'sell-off' defence PSUs isn't in national interest

By Sandeep Pandey*
The Standing Committee on Defence, 2017-18, of the 16th Lok Sabha highlights the idea of Buy Indian-IDDM (Indigenously Designed Developed and Manufactured). The Committee expressed concern over the import content of equipments produced and developed by Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), Ordnance Factories (OFs) and defence Public Sector Undertakings (PSUs) because of the dependence it creates for military hardware on foreign suppliers.

Central Gujarat effluent channel 'releasing' highly polluted industrial wastewater: PM told

Counterview Desk
Senior environmentalists of the Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti (PSS), Vadodara, Rohit Prajapati and Krishnakant, in an open letter to the Prime Minister, the Gujarat chief minister, the Gujarat chief secretary, and senior Government of India and Gujarat government officials dealing with environment, pollution and climate change have said that the authorities’ response their pleas to take action against the leakages and flow of polluted wastewater from the effluent channels of Central Gujarat industrial areas has met with complete inertia.

Can't go to court with RTI information, rule Ahmedabad authorities: Kankaria accident

By Pankti Jog*
In a shocking reply to an application filed by me, the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) authorities have said that the information provided under the Right to Information (RT) Act should be used in court or in a judicial process. The Act is known to be a major tool that enables citizens to seek certified copies of documents, records from any public authority of state and Central government within 30 days, as per provisions of the Act.

Quit India Movement 'betrayal' and dubious role of Hindu Mahasabha, RSS leaders

By Shamsul Islam*
After the recent guillotine of Article 370, Hindutva ideologue Ram Madhav, while celebrating the occasion stated that it was honouring of the sacrifices of Dr Shyam Prasad Mukherjee and thousands others who laid down their lives for its removal. It is to be noted that Dr Mukherjee was a cadre of RSS and was groomed into a Hindutva leader by another Hindutva icon, VD Savarkar.

Strategy for united struggle against Hindutva 'fascism': Ideological silence is 'no option'

By Dr Bhabani Shankar Nayak*
Electoral alliance and opportunism of national and regional political parties, neoliberal economic marginalisation and soft secular Hindutva line pandering to Hindu majoritarianism laid the foundation of Hindutva fascism in post-colonial India.