Balasar Camp was wound up on 16th Feb. 2001 in the evening. It was decided that the team would then tour the other earthquake affected areas of Kutch to get a broader picture of the situation, talk to various NGOs working in other parts, and so on to help us plan the further involvement in a better way. Another purpose was also to report about work done by us at Balasar to other local NGOs so as to give them information about what had happened in this area. A team started from Balasar with this aim on 17th Feb. 2001.
We first went to Neelpar and met the coordinator Shri Dineshbhai Sanghvi there. The "Gram Swaraj Sangh" there has contacts in the local area as it has been working in the area for long. It was Ramesh Sanghvi of this Ashram who guided us to Balasar when we came to this area. (on 2nd Feb. 2001). This Ashram, established by Shri Manibhai Sanghvi in 1968 is involved in children's education in the area, apart from some other activities. The Ashram is one of the "centres" of the Kutch Navnirman Abhiyaan. A copy of the Report of Balasar Camp was given to Shri Sanghvi and the work and issues discussed.
After this, we went to Lakadiya, Taluka Bhachau, at the headquarters of the Gujarat Jan Jagran Sangh. GJJS is a mass organisation working since many years in the area, with its activities ranging from mass mobilisation, agitation and reconstruction. GJJS had undertaken cattle camps in Balasar during the drought. It is carrying out employment generation program by building a village pond in Dora Basti. The GJJS has live contact with the villagers in this area. GJJS has also been closely associated with NBA and supports its work. GJJS is working extensively in the earthquake relief work and has plans to continue the work into the reconstruction phase along with the employment generation schemes and so on. Shri Tejabhai of GJJS had visited the Balasar Camp. A copy of the Report of Balasar Camp was given to Shri Rasikbhai Rajgor of GJJS at Lakadiya Camp. NBA wishes to continue long term linkage with GJJS in the earthquake relief and reconstruction efforts.
After this, we visited Adhoi, Bhachau - the worst affected areas - and took the night halt at the camp of "Sneha Samudya" at Moti Chirai. This is a joint effort of about 12 organisations like Janpath, Action Aid, students of several universities and so on. They are working towards the long term rehabilitation of the disabled, widows and orphans in the villages in the area.
Next day we traveled to Anjar town. Bhachau and Anjar town have been almost totally devastated. The human tragedy is not possible to describe in words. From Anjar we went to Bhuj. The old city of Bhuj has been totally destroyed.
Here we met the activists of "Kutch Navnirman Abhiyaan". KNA is an association of about 21 NGOs which had been set up when Kutch was hit by the massive cyclone a couple of years ago. Organisations like "Kutch Mahila Vikas Sangthan" are a major part of the KNA. Gram Swaraj Sangh at Neelpar is also a part of the KNA. KNA is now working for relief and reconstruction of the earthquake affected. It is trying to set up a coordination in the efforts of the many NGOs and groups working on this issue. The KNA has evolved a structure of several centres and sub-centres all over the earthquake affected area of Kutch. Each of the sub-centres will be working with a cluster of villages. In this manner, a coordinated, networked way of working is being evolved. KNA has a daily briefing session with the Kutch Collector in the morning and issues from all the sub-centres are raised there. KNA too has not decided to move from the relief work phase to the reconstruction phase, and their priority is the interim, transitory accommodation in the villages.
Balasar is being viewed a potential sub-centre in the KNA structure and KNA wants to place two full time workers here. We has detailed discussions with Susham Iyengar, Sandeep Viramani and Bhaskar Niranjani, and a copy of the Balasar Camp report was handed over to them. KNA has planned a meeting on 21-22 for deciding on their future work.
This round has given us some ideas about the impact of the earthquake in rest of Kutch, future direction of the work, the efforts of other groups and NGOs, the issues that lie in the future and all this will help us greatly in planning our future involvement. We hope to crystallise soon our longer term plans and commitments, and hope to continue the work in close coordination with other groups and NGOs.