On January 26th, 2001, a day Gujarat will forever remember, the earth heaved and left in its wake grieving families, fallen buildings and broken dreams. Towns and villages which a day before were full of life had been reduced to a pile of rubble. The Kutch quake killed more than 15,000 people and injured nearly 160,000, caused asset losses of $ 2.1 billion and destroyed 12,000 schools and 2,000 health clinics, and left huge numbers homeless and unemployed. People tried to save whatever they could from the debris and mass migration from the district began. The devastation ushered in a new dawn. Kutch realised that the black cloud had a silver lining and with that economic rejuvenation and social upliftment began with a bang.
It rose like the phoenix from the ashes of the old Kutch shattered by the quake. The then Prime Minister Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee declared excise exemption for new industries, for economical rehabilitation of the earthquake-ravaged district. The state government also echoed the gesture and announced sales tax exemption for the units.
Kutch, an arid and drought-prone area, was dependent mainly on remittances and money orders from their people who migrated to faraway places in India and abroad for livelihood. The industrialization triggered reverse migration for Kutchis and people from across the country also preferred the district for jobs and business opportunities.
The fiscal incentives proved to be a game changer for the economic rejuvenation of the district and brought a veritable ensemble of industries of every hue and shade. Kutch hosts a wide variety of industries and mind-boggling scales of production. Today, Kutch is home to industries like that of Salt, Oil, Steel, Electric Power, Cement, Automobile, etc. apart from these, the Kandla and Mundra ports contribute big time to the country’s economy. Kutch is an ideal gateway to Asian, African, American marketers as Mundra Port offers shortest land route from any port to vast hinterland of western and northern India.
Another major factor that adds to Kutch’s economic development and breathtaking beauty is the Rann Utsav, India’s Biggest White Desert Festival, an initiative by the Tourism Corporation of Gujarat Limited, that aims to highlight the rich culture and tradition of the region.