Little Rann of Kutch
Little Rann of Kutch, an un-surveyed piece of land with 5000 sq.km area, accounting for around 37% of the state of Gujarat’s total salt production. Gujarat produces 73% of India’s total salt. This unique ecosystem exists as a wetland (4 months) and a dryland (8 months) has also been declared as Wild Ass Sanctuary. It provides shelter to over 5000 wild assess, and 33 other types of wild animals & birds. As per last census, there is more than 10% growth in the population of this protected species of ass “Ghudkhar”. Even International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has also recognised this. The community plays a significant role in conserving and protecting the Ghudkhar and their harmonious relationship is quite interesting. The Agariyas provide water for the Ghudkhar, and the Ghudkhar tend to run towards the salt farms of the communities for protection when terrified and chased by tourist vehicles. Surprising for any legal framework in this day and age, Agariyas do not exist in the Rann – they are an unrecognized community, which means they are not able to take advantage of opportunities and schemes for minority communities. Yet they play a vital role in Gujarat’s salt industry, ecology and environment.
In the Little Rann of Kutch, the Agariya community (salt farmers) extracts one of the rarest types of salts, called vadagara crystals. The Agariyas make the Little Rann of Kutch, which is known as India’s Survey Number Zero — home for eight months for 3,500 Agariya families. During this period, they live secluded lives as their farms are far and scattered yet communication has never been a problem for them.