Brought together by a twist of fate or as one would say, chosen project preferences in summer school ; Aashka, Amanat and Shashank are a team working on 'efficienct way to move in and out of the salt wells in Rann'.
They started off with plotting of a mind map in a lecture session taken by Dr Shashank Mehta from NID, Ahmedabad. The process involved recognizing stake holders, beneficiaries and other people involved in the situation.
Task flow analysis was performed later with data gathered from relevant reports and articles on the web. This process showed loopholes in understanding of the problem, creating an immediate need of a field visit.
The team left for Rann at 3:30am on May 22nd and arrived at the lush green campus of Gijubhai Bal Academy HSBC Campus, Kutch at 8am, departing for Runn at 9:30am. Meeting Ambu Bhai in front of Gram Panchayat building , they visited SETU, a golden NGO in the golden land of Kutch, that serves as a free of cost health camp for nearby villages and becoming. SETU currently has a vision of creating mobile medical dispensary to expand its reach from 5 to 80 villages. Mr Sameer who briefed us about SETU also discussed the challenges they were currently facing with moving dispensary. He pointed out that there was continuous internet requirement throughout the movement of van which required fixing of broadband tower on the van. The team had a short discussion on it, exploring possibilities and alternatives.
The team arrived at Rann 10:45am and visited our first salt farm. This farm had 4 20ft deep, functioning, brine wells which were connected to 3 motors working on solar panels in day and diesel pump at night. The well being situated in a region with a higher water table has a comparatively lower depth. They also saw well digging tools and salt pans. This was accompanied by a visit to a salt factory.
The team went deeper into the Runn next day, coming across wells ranging from 50 to 60 ft. Well had a diameter of 5-8 ft which witg the cylindrical hole extending to a height of 20ft, attached to it was a cylindrical pipe going 30ft further deep into the ground. A motor was kept at the base of 20ft cylinder attached to the boring pipe downwards and to outlet pipe above. Another motor is kept above, on the ground, the two of them pull water from ground and dumping into a tank nearby. The team observed different support structures inside the well. The first well the team saw, had concentric concrete rings for support. The second well, on the other hand, had bamboo sticks for support as well as for up and down movement in the well. Most of the wells, however, did not have any mechanism to support its structure.
Later in the evening, team visited Naya Kharagao, a village established in the British times for salt farmers. There the team interviewed people of the Agariya community asking them about salt farming, brine wells, challenges they face and improvements they look forward to."Gas toh Mr India jaisa hai, dikhai nahi deta", 40 years old, Ramesh Bhai said on the tragic problem of toxic gas leakage in wells. " Peewana pani ni dikkat che" said Vallabh Bhai bringing into light how fresh water tanker only reaches in the months of December - January, creating drinking water problem from October to January. The team thanked the villagers for their warmth and support, and left for their accommodation with richer insights.
They departed for Grambharti with the break of dawn next morning,promising to be back with a solution worth their salt.