RICHA PATIL, KUNAL KUMAR, DAYEETA PAL, SOURAV DAS
“A pair of black gum boots stands in the corner of Dhirubhai’s temporary shack, his home for eight months in the Little Rann of Kutch. The shack built entirely of jute bags and plastic sheets and propped up by bamboo poles, houses nine members of his family. It is shaded a little by a babul tree from which hangs a rope swing.
Adjacent to the shack stretch the salt pans, beyond which lie miles and miles of barren, saline, cracked mudflats. These mudflats are intermittently broken by more salt pans, each with a solitary shack under a lone tree.”
“A salt worker’s hands and feet stiffen and at times water oozes out of our legs,” “We receive 1,000 litres of water every 15 days,” This scarce amount is just enough for drinking and cooking for her family of nine. Obviously, hygiene and sanitation are compromised. “We go every alternate day to Navagaon village, some 8 km away, to bathe.”
The sun and salt also take a toll on their health. The searing blaze of the sun reflected by the salt pans causes early cataract and skin problems.