Unseasonal rainfall has led to discolouration of salt, say Vedaranyam manufacturers

A view of salt pans at Vedaranyam in Nagapattinam district.

A view of salt pans at Vedaranyam in Nagapattinam district. | Photo Credit: M. SRINATH

Salt manufacturers in Vedaranyam have their fingers crossed as unseasonal rainfall in recent months has played spoilsport with their livelihood.

The latest spell of rainfall has caused discolouration of salt, rendering it inedible, and the quality too has declined due to loosening of the crystallised bed.

The latest spell has halted harvest for a week. And another spell will render the salt pans unsuitable for harvest for a fortnight, the manufacturers say.

"Sunshine is vital for our livelihood. The cloudy conditions imply impending scarcity of salt," A. Vedarathinam, president of Vedaranyam Salt Manufacturers and Merchants Association, said.

"This is the time of the year when the manufacturers sell their stock and conserve more for sale during winter months. The demand even for discoloured salt cannot be met, though it commands the same price as white-coloured variety to the extent of ₹3,500 per tonne," Mr. Vedarathinam said, adding that industries are also frantically looking for industry grade salt apprehending shortage.

The insufficient stock at present is bound to have implications for industrial salt requirement also.

According to the manufacturers, the production has looked up over the last few years ever since the Gaja cyclone struck the coastline.

Leave alone exports, this year the winter months will not only witness acute scarcity of edible salt, but there are also strong indications that the shortage will cause a cascading effect on glass, polyester, plastic, chemicals and other important industries, another manufacturer said.

The manufacturers are already in a debt trap as they had to spend heavily to prepare the heavily damaged pans in the aftermath of Gaja cyclone for salt production. Unlike other products, there is no way to scale up salt production if the weather is not conducive.

Variations in season have dented production to the extent of 30% in Gujarat where 90% of the country's salt requirements is manufactured. The Asani storm in Andhra Pradesh has made matters worse. Ironically, there is no reprieve for the manufacturers even when there is high demand, the producers rue.

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Printable version | Jun 29, 2022 4:11:13 am | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Tiruchirapalli/unseasonal-rainfall-has-led-to-discolouration-of-salt-say-vedaranyam-manufacturers/article65423774.ece