Agariya Farmers in Gujarat Demand Seasonal Land Rights, Minimum Support Price for Salt

Reported by

Aditi PatilLand Conflict Watch

Last updated on

June 23, 2021

Location of Conflict

Little Rann of Kutch

Kutch

Reason or Cause of Conflict

Protected Areas

(

Wildlife Sanctuary

)

People Affected by Conflict

45000

Land Area Affected (in Hectares)

500000

ha

Starting Year

1973

State

Gujarat

Sector

Conservation and Forestry

Each year, around 12,000 Agariya families migrate to the Little Rann of Kutch for a period of eight months (from September to AprilMay) for salt farming. The Agariyas are a nomadic and denotified tribe. In 1948, the Government of India had declared that smallscale salt farmers, who have less than 10 acres or four hectares of land, do not require lease to make salt. But after Little Rann of Kutch was declared a sanctuary in 1973 and technically became a forest, the forest department allegedly started harassing the Agariyas for using its land to make salt. The salt farmers claim they have been farming salt on this land for generations. They have demanded customary seasonal user rights to farm salt in Little Rann of Kutch under the Forest Rights Act. They have submitted applications to local government bodies but have not heard anything yet. The average land use by each salt farmer is about four or five acres and they claim that they do not use more than three per cent of the total land of the sanctuary. In 2013, the Gujarat government issued a resolution saying that the government has initiated the process to create Forest Right Committees in the area for this purpose. No action has been taken so far by the committees. About 5,000 square kilometres of Little Rann of Kutch has never been surveyed, so there is a lot of confusion about the ownership of this land. The Agariyas have also demanded minimum support price for the salt produced by them on par with agricultural farmers. "Our demand will neither require conversion of any land into revenue land, nor will it divert any land from the protected forest area. Ours is a […] reasonable demand, leaving no reason for the government to deny it," a member of the Agariya community told the media. In February 2021, the Agariya farmers boycotted the local body elections as a mark of protest, contending that their produce has drastically reduced due to excess water from the Narmada river being released into their salt pans. Despite writing to the local officials and being promised compensation, there has been no follow up, they claim. Being largely left out of the benefits of most welfare schemes in the state is rooted in the basic lack of either clauses to deter exploitation in leaseholder agreements or interdepartmental coordination and longterm policy in the state.

Demand/Contention of the Affected Community

Demand for better access to common land/resources, Demand for legal recognition of land rights

Region Classification

Rural

Type of Land

Common

Type of Common Land

Non-Forest (Other than Grazing Land)

Total investment involved (in Crores):

Type of investment:

Year of Estimation

Has the Conflict Ended?

When did it end?

Why did the conflict end?

Categories of Legislations Involved in the Conflict

Forest and Scheduled Area Governance Laws, Other

Legislations/Policies Involved

Whether claims/objections were made as per procedure in the relevant statute

What was the claim(s)/objection(s) raised by the community? What was the decision of the concerned government department?

Legal Processes and Loopholes Enabling the Conflict:

Non-implementation/violation of the FRA, Lack of legal protection over land rights

Legal Status:

Out of Court

Status of Case In Court

Whether any adjudicatory body was approached

Name of the adjudicatory body

Name(s) of the Court(s)

Case Number

Major Human Rights Violations Related to the Conflict:

Whether criminal law was used against protestors

Official name of the criminal law. Did the case reach trial?

Reported Details of the Violation:

Date of Violation

Location of Violation

Nature of Protest

Complaints, petitions, memorandums to officials , Boycott of official procedures/non-participation in official processes

Government Departments Involved in the Conflict:

Forest Department, Ministry of Tribal Affairs

PSUs Involved in the Conflict:

Did LCW Approach Government Authorities for Comments?

Name, Designation and Comment of the Government Authorities Approached

Corporate Parties Involved in the Conflict:

Did LCW Approach Corporate Parties for Comments?

Name, Designation and Comment of Corporate Authorities Approached

Other Parties Involved in the Conflict:

Resources Related to Conflict

  • News Articles Related to the Conflict:
  • Documents Related to the Conflict:
  • Links Related to the Conflict:
No Images Available

Documented By

Aditi Patil

Reviewed By

Aditi Patil

Updated By

Aditi Patil

Edited By

Aditi PatilLand Conflict Watch
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