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Visit at Kharaghoda (Little rann of Kutch)

Report by – Amar Baliram Gosavi (GIT, Lavel, Maharashtra)


FIELD VISITED: Little Rann of Kutch.


DESCRIBTION

One of the Village near the Little Rann of Kutch named as Kharaghoda. There are Salt farmers known as Agariya. They use to work on their field which about 30-50 km away from their village. The farmers use to Migrate for 8 Months in the Rann for the Salt Farming and the rest of the 4 months in the Village.


GENERAL INTRODUCTION


In the kharaghoda village we found that most of the farmers are having the only source of income in the Salt farming. We meet the Salt farmers (Agariya) and Discuss about their Lifestyle and their profession. We found that about 50% of the Villagers are the Salt farmers and rest of the farmers use to do the Labor work in the Salt packing factory or the other they use to do the farm of the Sesame seed(Til) or Castor seeds(Errand).

The farmers use to work for 8 months in the Rann of Kutch and the rest of the 4 months in the Village. Usually for that 8 months the Farmers use to migrate in the Rann with their whole family including their small kids. Basically the weather in the rann is about 44 0C, Humidity about 66% and the wind about 21km/hr.

The farmers Suffers major problem in the Rann regarding the Gas generated in their wells from which they extract the water for the farming. The gas generated is much toxic that within the fraction of seconds it affects the humans or the animals present inside the well.

There is a Medical public service providing charity Trust called as SETU. The main tag line of the trust “The poor should not get poor facility”. There is a moving mini hospital i.e. a clinic in the van, through which they visit the specific locations in that area and the doctor treatment is given through the video conference. As the location is in the drought area no one Doctor Use to visit or get allocated in the area. So the treatment for the peoples is given with the help of the web conference. For the network they have setup their private communication tower approx. of height 110 ft. The van use to visit the decided place and get their setup ready to serve the civilians. They serve the civilians by just making their case paper which worth for Rs.20 /- or the other they serve in free with free Medicines.


FIELD VISIT / DAY – 1


Kharaghoda village

We visited the temple in the kharaghoda where we actually had a direct communication with the Agariya’s peoples. We found that the main problem was Toxic gas evolved in the wells which they dug. The evolution of the toxic gas is unpredictable for the farmers so to prevent it they performs some traditional methods to check the presence of the gas in the well.

In traditional way the use the cotton cloth on which they apply flammable solution mostly Diesel and burn that cloth and just let that cloth to free fall in the well. If the burning clothe reach the ground level of the well with flame then they conclude that the gas is not present and if the cloth flam gets off before reaching the ground level without getting completely burn then it results the presence of the gas. Meanwhile having the discussion with the community present in the temple we also found that, for the presence of the gas the pigeons and doves are also taken in the grant. The villagers use to serve the grains and water for the pigeons and doves and even also for the animals, due to this there is a presence of the pigeons in there locality. These pigeons makes their nest in the wells, so if the gas is evolved then the pigeons get effected and they lose their life. So if they found the dead pigeon in the well they conclude that the gas has evolved in the well.






SETU CHARITABLE TRUST - Arogya kendra

We visited the charity trust called as SETU where we meet Mr. Ambubhai Patel, he stated us the aim of the setu which is “Poor should not get the poor facility”. They have modified a van into a mini clinic in which they use a net connection and on the web video conference they use to do a treatment for the peoples. Due to low connectivity they have setup their own data transferring network.

They have setup a tower of height about 110 ft and have successfully established in their target. Due to this they treat more peoples in the area neighbor to them and also in the required areas.

They have an easy affordable case paper and also the information they register from the civilian they save them with an unique Id code. By just entering the id for the patient the previous prescription is also enclosed.




RANN OF KUTCH – Agariya’s Farming Field

We visited at the well, where the agariya’s suffers from the problem regarding the gas evolution, which is 15-17 km away from the village. We studied out the structure of their well and also visited their farms. There the farmer told the stages in the farming of the salt which is as follows –

· 9 0C – 22 0C – Gypsum.

· 22 0C – 26 0C – Salt.

· 28 0C - Magnesia + Bromine.

They also shown the tool used for collecting the salt which is known as fawada.




FIELD VISIT / DAY – 2


RANN OF KUTCH

This time we visited about 30 – 40 km and we have done a little of survey of the wells and also the houses the agariya’s build during the season of the salt agriculture. The season for the agariya’s starts from September – April. We were having the local guide cum agariya who show us the spots where some of the agariya’s lost their life in the well due to gas. Also the motion in the sand cause to collapse of the dug well or during the digging well which causes to death of the digger inside the well.

In the memory of those framers they use to build samadhi in the field where they lost their life.

We studied the structure of the agariya’s house in the rann.


Kharaghoda village

We had conducted a survey in the village and asked them for their problems. In the survey we came to know that the most problem they are suffering for the Drinking water. The agariya’s use to PURCHASE the water from the purifier plant present in their village at Rs. 4 per 20 liters. Due to the starting of the salt season as the kutch area being drained most recently the water tankers are most probable not able to reach to the locations of the agariya’s home. So almost all the families carry their water tanks with them in the rann but they use to carry only 1000 liters of water with them, which they have to use it for 15-20 days. They are suppose to use that volume of water for least 15 – 20 days by hook or crook. Other thing we noticed in the survey is that the agaraiya’s use to have their bath after 15 days. The water problem is also a major problem for them during the season of the salt.

The other problem they are suffering is from the evolution of the gas in the well. During the survey we noticed that the gas Is usually evolved during the second time of the opening, so the farmers suffers major problem during the opening of the second time for the bore in side the well. As during monsoon season the water level on the rann of kutch area arises up to 5 - 6 ft , due to which the wells gets closed. Due to this they dig the well again and they pay again newly for that which costs around Rs. 4000 – 5000/-. The bore they dig, they cannot predict the presence of the water inside the well, so all this game depend on the LUCK, if the water is not present then they dig the well again at other location, this process goes on till the farmer explore the water. The construction of the well is as follows –

As the farmer families are in the rann during the season their kids are not able to attend the school. Also there is a little network issue with the agariya’s people. In any kind of the emergencies in rann the farmers fails to call the 108 Ambulance, also due to the wet sand the 108 service is not available in the rann. In the injuries cases the farmers are suppose to reach the village and then they can have the medical services for them.

Though the farmers face such problems they love to stay in the Rann, they believe in themselves and love their profession.





CONCLUSION


Form the above 2 days survey we can conclude that some while the life of the agariya’s is been avoided by the government and the high class societies. The main constituent of our food i.e. SALT is cultivated by this Farmers in the extreme conditions and they lost either their relatives or even their own life.

In order to change this worst scenario there must be a drastic development in the procedure and the method in the cultivation of the salt. Even the condition of these salt farmers must be improved as their most of the decades are working for the same field.

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