Water scarcity forces Kathiawadis to look to Surat for succour

Thousands of people from water-scarce districts of Saurashtra region are migrating to Surat.

Written by Kamaal Saiyed | Surat | Published: April 4, 2013 5:20:14 am

Thousands of people from water-scarce districts of Saurashtra region are migrating to Surat. Usually every summer diamond polishers of Surat return to Saurashtra to be with their families but this time families are looking to their bread-winning migrant relatives for succour.

And there are farmers like Balubhai Patel (60),a resident of Visavadar taluka in Junagadh district,whose eldest son Ramji stays at Varachha in Surat and is working in a diamond factory. His younger son Ashok helps him in the fields. Shortage of water for farming and drinking has forced the father and son to move to Surat in search of a job.

Balubhai Patel told The Indian Express,“We are also searching for jobs here in Surat and don’t want to burden my son financially. If this is the condition in April,imagine what May will be like. There are many families in our village who are not financial strong and they also face difficulty as a result of which they are also coming to Surat. I have talked to some people in Varachha who can give me a job in their farms.”

The diamond industry employs a workforce largely of youths hailing from different districts of Saurashtra. The elders stay back in the villager for farming. Due to the water scarcity in Saurashtra,a number of people have started coming to Surat to stay at their family’s house or relative place.

“We have also come to know that they are also seeking jobs in different industries and they give first preference to diamond industry,followed by textiles and embroidery sectors,” Kanki Bhalara,vice-president of Saurashtra Patel Samaj of Surat,said.

Kapodara,Varachha,Simada,Katargam,Punagam areas of Surat are where Kathiawadis from Saurashtra settled many years ago,from districts of Rajkot,Amreli,Bhavnagar,Jamnagar,etc,driven by repeated droughts back then. Praveen Bhalara,a social worker from Punagam,says,“We are regularly getting phone calls from residents of Saurashtra,asking us to arrange jobs.”

Jayenti Sojitra (31),a resident of Jithudi village in Amreli district,came to Surat with his wife and one-year-old son Monday evening and is staying at his relative house in Punagam.

He locked up his home after the farm dried up and moved here. Through his cousin who works in a textile unit,Sojitra got a job as a diamond cutter and is learning the art of cutting. “If everything goes well and if this job suits me then we will stay here and give out our field to someone else to cultivate,” he said.

Similarly,Govind Dholiya,a resident of Surnagar village in Gariyadhar taluka of Bhavnagar district,came down with his family. “I am looking for the job of a cook for a living and plan to be here at least till the first spell of rains. My elder brother stays in Katargam area and is a diamond cutter and polisher. Every year he comes to stay with us,but this year we have come here,” he said.

Surat Diamond Association president Dinesh Navadia says,“Diamond merchants are ready to give jobs to these migrants.”

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