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Agariya Status Update- Site visit report 25th July 2012

Santosh Rohit AID-Buffalo

Current status of the agariyas: Strategy: ● Mass empowerment to enable public to demand and get their work done ● Evolving organically and naturally with the willingness and thought processes of the community. Avoiding prejudices ● Working according to capacity and pushing beyond fatigue Updates: ● 3 female field workers to join hands to facilitate working with women in the area ● 1 female worker already recruited. She is currently in training Current: ● Community is not in a state to stand up against industry forces by themselves ● Salt production → INFRASTRUCTURE, RURAL CONNECTIVITY →Market access. Infrastructure and rural access is the missing link to economic freedom ● Creating an atmosphere for dialogue, community needs to take the issue forward with the government to exert pressure to act as necessary ● Janpath ready to withdraw any support if the community doesn’t the lead the fight ● Identity cards to salt pan worker families were issued similar to the MNREGA job cards ● Public servants and doctors not residing in the area ● Insufficient medicines being distributed ● ‘Darbar’ community dominating most of the areas. Creating tensions and demanding ‘honor’ Interview with the field fellows: Bharat bhai, Marut bhai and Ghanksyam bhai 17th July, 2012 Bharat bhai- Surendranagar Marut bhai- Rajkot Issues: ● Education-Mostly self funded schools, very large area and fewer schools ● Water-Pipelines laid and water through tanker (weekly) ● Health-Women & child health is prime concern

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Education is being provided at only 2 places Exploitation by the market is the more critical issue here Health van visits once in a month Female workers needed as the ladies

Ghanshyam bhaiSantalpur ● ● ● ●

Education is a concern Water is supplied once in 10-15 days No ground water supply here Traders are migrating out of the area which is also effecting the market accessability

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Agariya Status Update- Site visit report 25th July 2012 ● ●

Ration-Not supplied in the desert Subsidies for salt pan workers but banks do not issue loans due to lack of security (property) Interest waived in lieu of lower fixed selling price of 150-190 Rs/ tonne by traders Group negotiations hasn’t still caught up well and normally it doesn’t work out as the power of traders is more Hindustan salt has been helping set up a fair price for the salt. They have a Price fixing committee which recommends a price based on market needs. Last year they purchased salt at Rs. 500/tonne which also affected other traders to slightly increase their prices but only sparsely Dena bank has issued credit cards to 60 families with AHRM acting as the guarantor. This would decrease the influence of traders Long term lease is seen as a possible solution Community has otherwise good relations with traders, AHRM and forest officials No MNREGA

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Santosh Rohit AID-Buffalo and girls are hesitant to approach the male workers in the mobile health van Salt is produced from sea water here 10 plots owned by traders are run by mechanical methods which leaves very little brine for the traditional salt pan workers Land leased to agariyas have expired. Since 2001, land being selectively leased to bigger industries and not for agariyas Water pipeline not functional and water is being bought from tankers Ration does not contain all materials and is only functional in the villages and not the desert Salt fetches 150190Rs/tonne in this area Mechanised production and processing fetches around Rs. 1200/ tonne. This is done bigger companies or factories Change agents being encouraged from the community

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to salt pan workers Transportation of salt to the market place is a huge problem Health referral center has no doctors, no ambulances, no operators and no technicians. Only 1 center in 70 kms Occupational health is still an issue Water should be arranged thorugh a desalination plant Very high need for female health workers in the area Very little work if at all allocated under MNREGA No unemployment benefits ever given

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Agariya Status Update- Site visit report 25th July 2012

Santosh Rohit AID-Buffalo

implementation in the area

During the 4 month off season, agariyas indulge in gutkas, drinking and whiling away (realxing?) ● Alternative livelihoods such as production of special traditional foods, embroidery work, achars, papads and herbal medicines ● Talking with Gujarat government to set up rural technology centers to encourage alternative livelihoods ● When talking to an agariya at the public consultations, I was told that a lot has changed in the last 4-5 years with agariyas getting ID cards, some health facilities, educational facilities and awareness through Janpath and AHRM. He said that they were better equipped to handle the situation I have suggested advocating/pushing for special MNREGA provisions for agariyas to aid in more income during the off-season. Impressions: ● The field workers are highly motivated and are behind community mobilisation all the time ● Individually, Bharat bhai and marut bhai are the down to earth and calm workers who are more intense but Ghanshyam bhai is a vibrant personality with good communication skills ● The project thrusts the responsibility of the proper discharge of their duties with the community. This in more analogous to a public servant ● The agariya community has seen a sea of change in the last few years and are very hopeful for a brighter future ● They would want to tread a line of trust with the traders and in return want them to be more fair in their approach ● They want better market access to progress ● The only post graduate (graduate?) from the community has’nt been employed so far and this is kind of having a negative impact on others. Their line of defense being that a educated life is no better than theirs when there is no ready employment ● The employment of female field workers will be a great beginning as the better half of the population will have a person to talk with ● The availabilty of brine has been decreasing in the past many years. Be it due to industrialisation or environmental factors, there is an urgent need to have a greater exodus to alternative livelihoods ● Credit provided by DENA bank should be extended to other salt producers

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Agariya Status Update- Site visit report 25th July 2012

Santosh Rohit AID-Buffalo

Santosh Rohit

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Agariyas  

Agariyas site visit

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