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Gujarat: The marginalised community of Agariyas, the salt workers in the Little Rann region of Gujarat, produce 30 percent of India’s inland salt by Ravleen Kaur October 14,2021   |  Source: Mongabay

On the last Monday of the monsoon month in September 2021, 48-year-old Gunawant Ramji Koli left for the Little Rann of Kutch (LRK) to place idols in a mud puddle. During the monsoon, waters of 11 rivers and many nullahs drain here and mix with the tidal waves from the Gulf of Kutch. The water recedes in September-October. Then, the puddle in which Koli placed the idols would have massive saltpans around it. Koli belongs to Agariya, a traditional salt-making community in the Western Indian state of Gujarat. The Agariyas, like farmers, pray to their gods every year through such rituals for a bumper harvest and for no natural calamities. Koli’s prayers now include protection from man-made calamities too. Surplus water from the Narmada canals floods their saltpans, destroying salt worth several hundred thousand rupees. The 60,000-odd Agariyas at the Little Rann produce 30 percent of India’s inland salt but they have no legal rights over the land on which they have been making salt for centuries. The LRK is an area where no human being stays. Agariyas make salt in three percent of this land but the 2011 census indicates that a population of 1.75 million from nearby areas is dependent on it – the fishers, truck drivers, labour to load salt and packaging units.

The 5,000

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Years in Support of Small Scale Fishworkers (1986 - 2018)