Dust to Dollars
On January 26 2001, Kutch was struck by a devastating earthquake measuring 7.7 in magnitude
On January 26 2001, Kutch was struck by a devastating earthquake measuring 7.7 in magnitude. Thousands of people were killed and infrastructure worth crores turned into debris. Today it is said, "Kutch nahin dekha to kuch nahin dekha (If you've not seen Kutch, you've not seen anything)." How did this happen? No miracle took place. Neither did it take much time nor did the state government wait for centre's help. It was the determination of the then Government led by Narendra Modi who decided to turn the vast expanse of nothingness into a tourism hub. He worked on an action plan first to bring water to t he parched land and make Kutch the next investment destination, In 2006, Narendra Modi launched the Rann Utsav. Modi launched the Saurashtra Narmada Avtaran Irrigation (SAUNI) Yojana in September 2012. SAUNI word in Gujarati means "everyone's".
Through SAUNI Yojana, 115 dams in the arid Saurashtra region will be filled by diverting flood waters which overflow from the Sardar Sarovar dam in South Gujarat, a couple of kilometers away. For a place which is extremely hot through the year with very little rainfall, winters are quite pleasant in Kutch. So from November to February the following year, the Rann of Kutch hosts the 'Rann Utsav'. Tourism Corporation of Gujarat Limited, a Government of Gujarat company, makes impeccable arrangements for tourists. Kutch offers history, culture and the colors of Gujarat. And Kutch is now getting ready to have largest hybrid renewable energy park at Khavda and a desalination plant at Mandvi along Arabian Sea coast.
While water continues to remain an expensive commodity in Kutch, the famers have prospered. Over 150 farmers in Gujarat have been cultivating dragon fruit, an exotic fruit native to South America. And while dragon fruits of Kutch are on plates across hotels in India, the pomegranates are being exported to other parts of the world. Not just a pinch of salt there's probably a bit of Gujarat in everything you eat. Did you know the salt desert of Kutch contribute to 75% of total salt production in India? Yes, you read that right. That's how dust has been converted into dollars. Should we not take a leaf from such success stories? Just think?
Desert to dollars-II
Interest, focused approach and intention to convert rural landscapes into areas of cultural and eco tourism can become major revenue earner for any state. Rajasthan which again is a desert state has proved that its approach to give a major boost to Tourism industry had helped in making domestic travelers to explore historical monuments and many rich and mighty to fly to the palaces there to hold theme marriages.
The Tourism Department had adopted the motto, "short stay, safe stay", to draw in the target group. About 2.93 lakh domestic tourists visited monuments, museums and tourist destinations in the State since June this year.