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Jan 22, 2004
Boom time ahead for Rajasthan?

In Nov.,2002 Reliance had made a comparable discovery off-shore of Andhra Pradesh. But there are significant differences with the Cairn strike. Barmer reserves are in oil and Reliance’s is mostly gas. It is on-shore. It is where the big consumers are. And as with most such discoveries, it is believed that when you have made one big strike, you may reasonably expect a few more nearby. So are we looking at a prosperous future for Rajasthan similar to that of the Gulf states, which are not far off as a bird flies? Well, not entirely implausible.

For romantics, here’s a delicious aspect to savour. For centuries, Rajasthanis have proclaimed that once upon a time, theirs had been a great riverine economy. They talked of a river called the Sarasvati that flowed across their land, and supported vast tracts of agriculture. A modern traveller across arid Rajasthan may be forgiven for reacting with scepticism. Some even heaped derision. But the believers trusted their collective memory and held on to their claim. A year or so ago, satellite imaging revealed that a river had indeed flowed where the simple folk had pointed.

It turns out that the Cairn discovery was made precisely on what according to satellites, would have been Sarasvati’s banks. Is she backing her loyalists and promising she will make the land bountiful again?

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