Salt sector crisis pinches livelihood of lakhs
While farmers suffer due to lack of MSP, salt workers are in distress for want of wage system and security.
Salt industry is facing huge challenges
- At the moment, a farmer earns about Rs. 250 to Rs. 300 for a tonne of salt he or she produces. The prices keep fluctuating.
- While farmers are facing low price as there is no minimum support price, workers are also in distress due to a lack of proper system for wages and social security.
- There are about 12,800 salt processing units in Gujarat’s coastal belt, out of which only 119 are considered as medium and large.
- The problem of salt industry is turning into a political issue.
- Even after 75 years of independence, the laws that govern this industry are framed by the British. 120 years ago, Britishers got salt from Mandi in Himachal Pradesh by mining. Therefore, the British put salt production as mining.
- Hardly 0.5% salt is produced by mining. 99.5% salt is produced either from the sea water or from the sub soil water and the entire process done by seeding, cultivation and harvest.
- The production units and farmers say that all laws pertaining to the industries are applicable to salt production even though the production is done through simple solar evaporation as it is listed as mining industry.
- It is a seasonal industry and it should be considered as agriculture.
- The industries demand that there should be a nodal agency with common rules and regulations.
- We need a new Salt Act as a common policy for entire country.
Key Facts on Salt
- Gujarat produces about 28.5 million tonnes of salt per year, which is more than 80% of the country’s total production.
- India is world’s third largest producer of salt.
- Salt is a central subject as item No. 58 of the Union list of the 7th Schedule of the Constitution.
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