Production may come down by 50 per cent this year in the State
BERHAMPUR: Except salt farmers in Ganjam district, who incurred losses, most inhabitants in coastal Orissa are happy over the rain that accompanied the weakened cyclone ‘Laila'.
Most of the people preferred to do away with their raincoats and umbrellas to drench and enjoy the much-needed respite from the scorching summer heat. Families, including children, were seen moving around the city on bikes without any protection to enjoy the rain. Farmers like S. Rath of Ankushpur say the recent rain would help vegetable farmers and in a way would put check on the probable rise in vegetable prices.
But, the state of salt farmers of Ganjam district is quite a contrast to the situation of general farmers. Salt production has been badly affected by the untimely summer rain which continued for three days. It is feared that the salt production in Orissa may get reduced by 50 per cent due to the recent rain.
Orissa is yet to be self-sufficient in salt production. Around 30,000 tons of salt gets produced in Orissa. A major chunk of the salt produced in Orissa comes from Ganjam district as salt production as a profession has been stopped in other areas of the State. Ganjam district's salt beds are located in two stretches on the coast line. One stretch is near the Ganjam and Humma area, while the other is near Sorala-Somandi. Salt is produced through cooperatives as well as by private companies in these areas. Salt is also produced in small quantity in Balasore district. The salt beds near Astarang in Puri district are non-functional. As per official records, there are 5,143 acres of salt beds in the State and out of it 3035 acres are functional.
Salt beds damaged
Secretary of the Humma Binchanapalli Salt Production and Sales Cooperative (HBSPSC), K. Duryodhan Reddy, says rain water has damaged salt beds as several embankments have been swept away and salt beds are silted. This cooperative society has targeted to produce 10,000 tons of salt this year as its past year's production was 8500 tons. Now it expects that production may go down to 4000 tons.
Usually salt production process in Ganjam district starts from February and continues till onset of monsoon in June. This year the oil spill from a ship in the sea near Ganjam coast also stopped salt production process for about a week in April.