Dandi (Navsari district)

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Dandi (Navsari district)

Sons of soil shun Dandi, villagers turn westwards

Yagnesh Mehta, TNN | Oct 2, 2013

The Times of India

Dandi in Navsari district was not known to many until Mahatma Gandhi took out his Salt March to this coastal village in 1930. Gandhiji shook the foundation of the British Empire through his Satyagraha against the imposition of tax on salt and thousands of people took part in it. Hundreds and hundreds may have visited this village also. However, a lot has changed in Dandi in the past 83 years. A large number of villagers are now settled abroad and many are waiting to go from Dandi.

Soil unfit for agriculture leads to outward migration

Of the 350 houses in the village, 80 remain locked permanently throughout the year. These houses get opened in November-December when their NRI owners visit Dandi during vacation. The village had a population of around 1,200 residents. Of this at least 100 families now have migrated to different countries. Besides, 100 youths from the village have taken up jobs in West Asia. Almost one-third of the village remains closed throughout the year, said Parimal Patel, sarpanch of Dandi village.

Dandi is synonymous with Salt Satyagraha. The same 'salt' and poor irrigation facilities have made agriculture difficult in the village. There is problem of high salinity in Dandi and the village doesn't get water for irrigation, Parimal said.

"Agriculture is not possible in Dandi and there are no other employment options in the village for the youth," said Dhirubhai Patel, who runs a school on Gandhian philosophy in Dandi. Dhirubhai's two sons and a daughter are settled in Canada. Hemlata Patel's husband Hitesh, 40, a farmer in Dandi, took a job in South Africa, another got a job in Abu Dhabi. These men return home every two to three years.

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