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99 Yatra
Why Dholavira’s on the road to nowhere
30 October 2005

Tour organisers worried as proposed route from Khavda to Dholavira is still under construction 

Bhuj, October 12: Dholavira, site of the 5,000-year-old Indus Valley civilisation, has been part of the Kutch festival since its inception. But tourists hardly visit this world heritage site, even if its part of the TCGL festival package. This time, the tour is part of Sharadotsav beginning this weekend. But tour organisers are a worried lot as a proposed route from Khavda to Dholavira is still under construction. And, no one from the administration is in a position to say when it would be ready.

‘‘The only route to Dholavira from Bhuj is via Bhachau and Rapar. It takes 7-8 hours to cover the 250-km-long tedious route from Bhuj to Dholavira, which is on Khadir Island in the Rann of Kutch. Full of potholes, the last 100-km stretch is a nightmare. Our administrative work forces us to travel there twice a week. But tourists are not obliged to undertake such a tough journey,’’ says Velubha Sodha, leader of Dholavira village and former chairman of the District Co-operative Bank.

If the proposed Khavda route through the Great Rann of Kutch is built, it will reduce the distance to 120 km. The 70 km-stretch from Bhuj to Khavda is a pucca road. From Khavda, Dholavira is just 50 km away. Though work on the road from Dholavira started a long time ago, only 16 km has been covered so far, says Sodha, adding, ‘‘Inundated with seawater in monsoon and winter, the villagers remain isolated on the island most of the time. We use the short route only for three to four months in summer when the Rann dries up and becomes motorable. The raised pucca road will not end our troubles but might draw tourists.’’

Executive Engineer (State Roads and Buildings) N P Patel says, ‘‘As this road is in the border area, we get funds from the Centre for this work. So far, we have made 15 km of pucca road and 14 km of kuccha road. The remaining 50 km stretch can be completed only if the Union Government releases funds under the border area development programme. We have prepared and submitted the estimates to the Centre, but have not received the funds yet.’’

It was reported that at the brain-storming session held for bureaucrats in Kevadia last year, the Chief Minister had promised district collector Pradeep Sharma special funds to build the road. Denying this, Patel says ‘‘We have not received any fund from the Chief Minister. However, to promote Dholavira, Modi and the Chief Secretary have urged the Centre to release the funds soon.’’ Sodha says Dholavira is some 150 km away from Bhachau, its taluka headquarters.

‘‘This distance can be reduced if two roads are built. One can be a 9 km road via Amarapar and Sirani Vandh. The Ekal-Bambhada route will be 18-km-long. Any one of this road through the Rann will help us avoid the 100-km-long journey to Bhachau,’’ he says.

D. V. Maheshwari kutchhis globally , from Mumbai

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