The Times of India: Rajkot: Sunday, April 21, 2013.
Unseasonal rains have spelt misery for saltpan workers of Little Rann of Kutch as hundreds of them have been trapped after the area was flooded. Their salt produce for the season has also been destroyed leaving them helpless.
Hundreds of workers were evacuated by villagers residing close to the salt pans on Saturday. There are a still a large number left to be moved. The official machinery however does not see any need to launch a rescue mission at the government level.
"We were surprised when the heavy rain started amidst cyclonic winds late on Friday night. Our makeshift shelters were blown away leaving us helpless in the middle of the Rann," said Vishabhai Rafucha, a saltpan worker who was trapped along with his family.
"My wife and me were injured when our hutment fell. The rains have left us devastated as we have lost our annual income with the extracted salt being washed away," said Vana Thakor of Kharaghoda.
The workers said that the rain has resulted in a famine like situation for them. "We were about to take our annual salt harvest when the rains arrived damaging our produce," said Rayabhai Thakore.
Volunteers who have been helping in evacuation of the saltpan workers said that there were around 1,500 persons awaiting rescue on Saturday. "Villagers offered their tractors to rescue saltpan workers who were trapped in the water,'' said a volunteer Dalpat Thakore.
Sources said that the rains have washed away at least 150 saltpans inside the Little Rann. "Each saltpan produces 500 tonnes of salt. About 50 trucks transporting salt from the Little Rann to Kharaghoda were also trapped," said Ambu Patel of Kharaghoda.
On the other hand Patdi mamlatdar M C Ghoru said that saltpan workers are returning to their homes on their own. "We went to inquire about the situation at Kharaghoda and we did not find anything serious where the government needs to launch a rescue operation for saltpan workers,'' Ghoru said.