Essay on the Gujarat Region of India

The factors like rainfall, soils, surface features are diverse but there is uniformity in language, culture and situation.

Surface Features:

This region is a low rolling plain except for a few low irregular hills such as Mandav, Thauga and Girnar Hills in Kathiawar. Large parts of the region were under sea during Pleistocene period. The Girnar Hills rise to 1,117 metres at Gorakhanath the highest place in Kathiawar.

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The Gulf of Cambay had extended to the north beyond its present limits and had merged into the Rann of Kutch which was a shallow body of inland sea during the Pleistocene. The inland sea was silted up by the detritus brought by the rivers.

During the summer monsoon rainy season, large discharge of the rivers and the surface water of the sea moved in by the south-west monsoons; raise the water-level in the Rann by a few feet. The water of the Gulf of Cambay has retreated to its present position due to the deposition of sand and silt. These deposits have formed a very fertile alluvial plain called the Gujarat Plain.

The west flowing rivers like Mahi, Sabarmati drain this plain. The Narmada and the Tapti after traversing a short distance in this region pour their water in the Gulf of Cambay.

Climate:

This region falls under dry climate zone. The Gujarat Plain being flanked in the north by the southern end of the Aravalli Range receives rainfall which decreases rapidly from 127 cm. a year in the extreme south to about 50 cm. a year in the extreme north-west. Ninty per cent of the annual rainfall is received during the summer monsoon rainy season which starts in the third weeks of June and continues for a period of three months.

The rainfall on the whole is highly variable and unreliable in this region. January mean temperature varies from 18.2°C to 20.8°C in this region though a cold wave may bring temperature even below 0°C. Summers are hot. The Gujarat Plain in the interior being less insular has the highest temperature of this region.

Vegetation:

Thorny stunted type of vegetation is common due to limited supply of moisture. Acacias are dominant in Kutch amidst xerophytic vegetation. Light grass grows only during the periods of rainfall. In wetter Gujarat, babool, neem, mango, mahwa and teak appear. Where there is no interference by man we find dry deciduous forest interspersed with grasses giving an appearance of savanna. Gir Hills in Kathiawar is the only home of lions in Asia.

Agriculture:

There are extensive barren infertile lands in semi-arid Kutch and north-western Kathiawar. Area sown more than once is very small. As climatic and soil conditions particularly in the Gujarat Plain are suitable for raising bajra, cotton and groundnut they are mainly grown.

About half of the total cropped area is under food grains in this region. The leading food grain produced in this region is bajra followed by jowar. Gujrat is one of the leading bajra producing State in India.

Fodder crops also get importance. The percentage of area under fodder crops to the total cropped area is fairly high when compared with the area under fodder crops in other regions.

In the absence of large-scale irrigation, crops depend almost entirely on rain with the result that Kharif crops form the bulk of the cultivated crops of the region. Wells and small reservoirs of water made by constructing earthern bunds across streams are the main source of irrigation.

Cotton:

This region is one of the major cotton producing area of India. In 1989-90 the region produced 1,755,500 bales of cotton lint accounting for only 15.4 percent of the total cotton lint produced in the country. Cotton is mainly a rain-fed crop and the bulk of it is sown in July. Black lava soils of northern Kathiawar and alluvial soils are generally selected for raising this crops.

Groundnut:

This is the major crop of this region. It is grown as a kharif crop in Kathiawar and the central part of the Gujarat Plain. Light soil, temperature above 21°C and annual rainfall varying from 50 to 76 cm all favour its production. In the year when rainfall is deficient, the production of groundnut falls steeply. Yield per hectare is high.

Tobacco:

Ahmedabad, Baroda and Kaira district produce nearly 50 per cent of bidi tobacco of India. It is concentrated in the alluvial soil of Kaira district where one-tenth of the total cropped area is devoted to tobacco only. This district produces nearly three-fourths of the total tobacco produced in this region.

In the year when climatic conditions are favourable it easily leads all other region in the production of tobacco in India.

Cattle Rearing:

A large number of sheeps are reared for wool in semi arid Kutch and in Kathiawar region. The wool is of medium quality but white in colour. The sheep raising tract continues towards north and merges into the sheep-raising belt of Rajasthan. Gujarat and Rajasthan states together produce bulk of India’s wool. Goats are kept in a larger number than sheep throughout the region.

There is rearing of large number of cattle and buffaloes for milk. The yield of milk per head of cattle is high, particularly in those areas where summer is less hot. People are hard working and co-operative. At Anand (Kaira district) there is a modern dairy industry run on cooperative lines.

Milk collecting centres have been set up in almost all the villages situated not far from Anand. Milk collected at these centres is dispatched to Anand by train or truck. Various milk products such as condensed milk, butter, baby foods, etc., are made at this place. Since refrigerated vans for carrying milk are now made available by the Indian Railway, this region supplies fresh milk to as far off a place as Delhi and Mumbai.

Minerals and Power Resources:

Limestone is important mineral mined in this region. Most of the quarries are located close to the southern coast of Kathiawar. It is used for the manufacture of cement. Manganese ore is mined in Panch Mahals district. This district has deposits of good quality sand which is found in dry beds of rivers.

Gujarat has distinction of being a leader in salt production in the country. Absence of clouds and rain in the first six months of the year has promoted the production of salt from sea-water on a large scale in this region. The water of the sea at high tide is allowed to flow into large but shallow reservoirs at many salt works spread along the Kutch-Kathiawar coast.

The sea-water on evaporation deposits salt which is collected, bagged and dispatched to various parts of India and foreign countries. Some salt is used as raw material in chemical industries. Dhrangadhra, Mithapur and Porbandar have chemical works which manufacture chemicals from this salt.

The petroleum deposits have been established in area nearby Cambay, Ankleshwar and at some laces in Baroda, Mehsana arid Ahmedabad districts. First consignment of petroleum crude was dispatched to Mumbai for refining in September 1961. The oil bearing horizons occur at depths ranging from 510 to 1710 metres in the oil belt running between Anklesvar and Cambay.

In addition to oil, gas has also been found at some places in these areas. Crude from Anklesvar oil-field and Kalol, Navagam oil-field (near Ahmadabad) is carried through pipe-lines to Koyali (near Baroda) for refining. Natural gas occurs at Cambay, Anklesvar, Olpad (near-Surat), Kalol, Navagam and Sanand. Gujarat produces about 4 million tonnes of crude petroleum annually which is nearly 14 per cent of the total crude produced in the country.

Cotton Textiles:

This is the leading large-scale industry of this region. Ahmadabad with 72 cotton textile mills is the important cotton textile producing centre of India. Broach, Baroda, Petlad and Bhavnagar are other important centres of the industry. Medium and coarse varieties of cloth form bulk of the production. This region ranks second in the total output of cotton fabrics in India.

Diamond Cutting Industry:

This region leads all other regions of the country in cutting and polishing small diamonds. India imports small and rough precious stones from other countries, cuts them, polishes them and exports them to many countries.

This industry has made rapid progress mainly due to the fact that labour skilled in cutting small diamonds is easily available and the labour costs are low in this region. Surat is the main centre. Other centres of this industry are Bhavnagar, Navsari and Palanpur. Jasdan in central Saurashtra is an important diamond polishing centre.

Shipbreaking:

The Shipbreaking activities are carried by India on large scale. Unserviceable ships imported from other countries are broken by shipbreaking units located mainly at Alang and Sachna ports in Bhavnagar district. At present Alang is the leading shipbreaking centre in India. Here this industry was started after 1982.

It offers deep water harbour facilities at the time of spring tide when water attains a depth of about 11 metres. This much depth of water enables large ships to reach the port easily at the time of high spring tide. A large stretch of vacant level land for the establishment and expansion of shipbreaking yards is available.

Hajira-Bijaipur-Jagdishpur (HBJ) Gas Pipeline:

This project is meant to transport South Basin and Bombay High natural gas through a pipeline to Madhya Pradesh, eastern Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh for generating electricity and manufacturing fertilizers. The gas is first piped to Hazira from where it is passed on into HBJ Gaspipe which is 1726 km. in length. Hydrogen sulphide is separated from natural gas at Hajira.

The natural gas free from hydrogen sulphide is then moved through the HBJ pipeline. Hazira- Bijaipur pipeline (642 km. long) was completed and inaugurated on August 19, 1987. Bijaipur located near Guna (Madhya Pradesh) has a fertilizer plant based on this gas.

From Bijaipur the pipeline leads to Auraiya in Etah district of Uttar Pradesh. A power plant based on gas has been commissioned at Auraiya. Gas from Auraiya is taken to Jagdishpur (located in Sultanpur district in eastern Uttar Pradesh) where a fertilizer plant based on this gas has been constructed.

There are two offshoots from this pipeline-one from Bijaipur to Sawai Madhopur and Anta (Rajasthan) and the other from Auraiya to Babrala via Shahjahnpur and Aonla (Uttar Pradesh). Each of Bijaipur, Gadepan (Rajasthan), Jagdishpur, Shahjanapur, Aonla and Babrala has a fertilizer plant.

The major towns and cities of the State are Ahmedabad. Surat, Vadodara, Broach, Cambay, Bhavangar, Rajkot, Jamnagar, Okha, Kandla and Dwarka.