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Farmers, fisherfolk, agariyas oppose Rann Sarovar project in Little Rann of Kutch

By Our Representative
A well-attended meeting held at Nimaknagar in the presence of Dhangadhra MLA Purushottam Sabariya, and with the participation of agariyas, farmers, fisherfolk, maldharis and charcoal makers, has expressed deep concern over the probable impact the proposed Rann Sarovar project in the Little Rann of Kutch (LRK).
The meeting was organized by the Agariya Heet Rakshak Manch (AHRM), and was presided over by its secretary, Harinesh Pandya, who said that there was a need to recognise the contribution of the community in conserving wildlife and ecosystem of LRK. Speaking on the occasion, Sabariya assured people that he would convey to their concerns to the authorities on what would happen to 150 villages of five districts surrounding LRK in case the project was undertaken.
Harinesh Pandya
Fisherfolk representatives expressed their apprehensions about the future of prawn fishing of LRK, valuing a business of Rs 300 crore during just four months of monsoon. Prawns from LRK are of export quality, they said. Panchayat members spoke about their concern for the maldhari community, which claims it has rights in LRK under the Forest Rights Act, which are still to be recognised.
Farmers’ representatives wondered how could their jeera farms withstand against humidity in the peripheral areas of LRK when a huge area would be filled with water throughout the year. They said, one third of the population of wild ass stayed in the peripheral forests, but when the Rann Sarovar would be there, forests would become inaccessible. Who would protect their farms from the attacks of will asses on their farms?
How would they protect their farms from salinity in peripheral areas when the saline desert would be filled up with sweet water, they asked, wondering whether the government would consult them before floating the Rann Sarovar project.
At the end of the meeting, it was decided that in the coming days regional and village level meetings will be held to discuss the Rann Sarovar project. Communities in 150 villages surrounding LRK will meet with people's representatives and go to Gandhinagar and Delhi to voice their concern.

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