Tamil Nadu

Salt producers blame Central, State apathy for current plight

‘Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has failed to keep her promise’

With their entire storage exhausted, salt producers affected by Cyclone Gaja in Vedaranyam have been left high and dry due to what they describe as apathy of the Central and State Governments.

This year, there was production in only 50% of the salt pans. The deposit of mud from the sea caused by the cyclone could not be removed from the rest of the pans.

Tamil Nadu Salt Corporation had acknowledged substantial damage to the salt pans.

The salt producers fear that Vedaranyam would soon turn into another Vidarbha. Pawn broking business, the only economic activity in Vedaranyam, is pushing the dependents of the salt pan industry further into the debt trap, the salt producers say.

Over 10,000 families are directly or indirectly dependent on salt industry.

Last year, the cyclone washed away one lakh tonnes of salt stored for despatch, besides causing enormous damage to the pans. Union Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and State Minister P. Benjamin who visited Vederanyam after the natural calamity have not followed up on their assurances, said A Vedaratnam, president, Vedaranyam Salt Manufacturers and Traders Association

Ms. Nirmala Sitharaman had, during her visit to Vedaranyam last November, promised all possible help from the Centre for revival of the salt industry.

Mr. Benjamin had, during his visit to Nagapattinam district during August, announced ₹44 crore relief to micro, small and medium enterprises. But, the relief remains elusive to the industry, Mr. Vedarathnam pointed out.

According to the Nagapattinam District Human Development Report 2017 prepared by the district admnistration and the State Planning Commission, Tamil Nadu, in association with Annamalai University, survival of the salt industry hinges on effective intervention of policy makers.

The techno-economic survey report of Nagapattinam district prepared by the Development Commissioner, Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises, Government of India, advocates diversification of the salt industry through production of sodium chloride(Industrial grade), potassium chloride, sodium sulphate, magnesium chloride, and bromine with the available salt.

The survey report has suggested that SIPCOT (State Industries Promotion Corporation of Tamil Nadu) could take up the intiative to establish an industrial area by roping in investors.

Likewise, in the small-scale sector, iodised salt could be manufactured, the report states.

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Printable version | Feb 23, 2020 2:26:20 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/salt-producers-blame-central-state-apathy-for-current-plight/article30093807.ece

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