Khara Ghoda (Guj): Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi today assured salt pan workers here that their problems would be addressed though he might not be able to bring a change in their lives in the “next 10 days”.
He met the salt-pan workers in this village of little Runn of Kutch in Surendranagar district and listened to the problems faced by them.
“I have understood your problems and I will try my best to address those issues. I am not saying that I will change your life in the next ten days but I will make attempts,” he said.
The central government has introduced schemes like Right to Food, Right to Shelter and Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee scheme (MNREGA), he said, adding, “You people should get benefit of those schemes. We believe that each and every citizen should get the basic rights.”
On the issue of development, Rahul said, “There are two thoughts associated with the idea of development. First is to build roads and claim that it is development, while another is to provide shelter to people like you.”
“Until and unless you people do not have floor beneath your feet and roof over your heads it cannot be claimed development… Every citizen of this country should participate in the growth story and should be benefited.”
Representatives of the salt pan workers told him that they do not even get drinking water on a daily basis. Responding to this, Rahul said, “In independent India, if we cannot provide you drinking water, then there is some serious problem.”
A woman representative told him that despite losses due to unseasonal rains, the salt pan workers do not get any compensation. “Government must have introduced so many welfare schemes, but we are not benefited by them. We are left dry as we do not get even a drop of those schemes,” she added.
Gujarat is the largest producer of salt in the country and the salt pan workers have to spent six months in the Little Runn of Kutch to produce salt without any basic facilities, the representatives said.
Responding to this, Rahul said, “Despite rains, you people do not get water. There must be some loopholes in the system. Schemes are not reaching up to you people. I will try to address your issues.”
Workers also told him that their work is considered illegal as they are not getting lease for salt panning, to which he said, “You people should get rights over the land and the lease should be renewed soon.”