Praveen Kumar Vidyarthi, PhD Scholar, IIT Roorkee Payal Seth, PhD Candidate, Cornell University Vedansh Dave, B.Tech. (Mechanical), Nirma University
Yukta Rana, B.Sc. (Biotechnology), Institute of Advanced Research
Introduction to Salt Workers
Little Rann of Kutch, located in Gujarat is famous for Gudkhar (wild ass) and for salt fields. Little Rann of Kutch has area of about 3000 sq. km. 76.7% of India’s total salt in India comes from Little Rann of Kutch, Kharaghoda and nearby places. (tnsaltcorp n.d.) Agariyas are the people who work in the Agar (Salt Pans) for their occupation. More than 70% of salt worker come from Kharaghoda and nearby villages. The families of Agariyas move to the Rann for extracting brine and cultivating salt which takes around 8-9 months. It starts from the month of September-October and ends in April-May. After May, Rann is submerged in the seawater in monsoon. Agariyas who are not employed at their village prefer to work on Agar for their livelihood. In Kutch, ground water is 10 times rich in terms of salt compared to seawater and TDS (Total Dissolved Solids) value is above 1200 ppm. Government gives 1000 litres of water per 20-25 days per family of 5-7 members. This water is mainly for drinking, cooking and therefore they face shortage of water. Due to the unavailability of toilets, the community practices open defecate in opens, mostly at night. In case of emergency, they even go during daytime by covering them with shawl or blanket along with few sticks to support the cover. At end of the season, Agariya sell salt and brine to brokers. (Bhagawati 2020).
Agariyas move to Rann with their essentials including wood, water tank, household materials and food supplies. Agariyas after moving to Rann they make immediate hut in 3 days with the help of locally available materials. They reside near the salt pan where they going to extract salt and brine. For extracting salt, they make their