Serpentine Red Tape Binds Biz, Snake Charmers | Ahmedabad News
Ahmedabad: In this area of Gujarat Industrial Development Corporation (GIDC) while crores hiss from entrepreneurial production, snake charmers in the estate district tend to use the slippery presentation aids of their business.
A delay in the allocation of plots of the GIDC estate to Radhanpur, about 170 km from Ahmedabad, put a charming spin on “Snakes on a Plane”: snakes in business class! Around 300 families of snake charmers live adjacent to the estate.
Radhanpur GIDC Industry Association President Mahesh Thakkar explained how the demographics emerged. “The state government had acquired the land for an GIDC estate in Radhanpur in 1992-93”, Thakkar said. “However, the plots were not allocated until 2007. In the meantime, a large number of snake charmers and their families have started living on the land intended for the proposed estate.”
In fact, Thakkar went on to concede, “So technically the snake charmers came here before the industry.” Eventually, plots were allocated to industries and the portion of land the snake charmers had settled on was taken over from the GIDC by the state government sometime after 2007. “The snake charmers are our neighbors since then,” Thakkar said. Over the years, snake-savvy settlers have built pucca houses.
The Radhanpur GIDC estate has more than 450 plots and 300 of them are used by about 80 units, which employ 2,000 people. According to the association’s estimates, about 25 of these workers belong to the snake-charming community. A worker with snake charmer ancestry has become a skilled professional and leads a team of three. Her CV bears witness to the evolution of the aspirations of young people in her community.
Association members said most of the plots in the Radhanpur GIDC estate are 200 meters in size and have been designed to help small businesses. Production started at the estate after 2010.
“We have no problem with snake charmers. They do their business like us,” Thakkar said. “While some young people in the community work in the units, others have purchased cargo rickshaws and are indirectly contributing to the running of the units.” He added, “It’s a unique GIDC area where industrialists and snake charmers live together!” What bites the Radhanpur GIDC domain units is the language issue.
Association members said many contractors here do not understand English, the language in which notices are issued. Financial problems have also shown their fangs. These factors led to the cancellation of the allocation of about 70 plots whose operations did not start within the planned timeframe.
Thakkar said the GIDC estate is still waiting for a reliable water supply and the installation of streetlights.
Another contractor, Ramesh Thakar, who runs a charcoal production unit on the estate, said, “There are many infrastructure gaps in the Radhanpur GIDC estate. In addition, GIDC requires us to undertake certain construction projects.
He added: “But our units do not require such constructions. The impasse resulted in more notices being sent to us.