Crisis in salt sector hits 5 lakh people in Gujarat

What is the News?

The Salt Industry is facing enormous challenges in meeting the demand and handling the crisis faced by salt farmers and workers.

Salt Industry in India

India ranks third in the production of salt in the world next to the USA and China.

Sea salt constitutes about 70% of the total salt production in the country.

Salt manufacturing activities are carried out in the coastal states of Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Orissa, West Bengal Goa and hinterland State of Rajasthan.

Gujarat produces about 28.5 million tonnes of salt per year which is more than 80% of the country’s total production. 

In Himachal and Rajasthan, salt is harvested by mining while in other states including Gujarat, salt is produced through a solar-evaporation process of seawater.

Government of India’s role in the Salt Industry

Salt is a central subject listed as item number 58 of the Union List of the 7th Schedule of the Constitution. It is listed as a mining industry.

The Government of India has de-licensed the Salt Industry by deleting provisions relating to Salt in the Central Excise & Salt Act, 1944.

The Salt Commissioner’s Organization plays a facilitating role in the overall growth and development of the Salt Industry in the country.

What are the problems the Salt Industry is facing currently?

Classification of Salt Industry: Currently, Salt Industry is listed as a mining industry and is governed by the Ministry of  Industries & Mines.

However, the Indian Salt Manufacturers Association(ISMA) has demanded the classification of salt production as an agricultural activity under the Ministry of agriculture.

This is because mining produces hardly 0.5% salt. 99.5% of salt is produced either from sea water or from subsoil water and the whole process is done by seeding, farming and harvesting.

Demand for MSP for Salt: Unseasonal rains and floods are resulting in demand for Minimum Support Prices for the Salt industry.

No Wage or Social Security: Salt companies have replaced cooperatives and they decide the wages of these workers and the production of farmers. Most of them are migrant labourers with no minimum wages or social security.

What should the government do to solve the problems in the Salt Industry?

Government should set up a separate nodal agency with common rules and regulations regarding salt production. 

Minimum wages and social security must also be ensured with a uniform policy for the entire country.

Source: The post is based on the article “Crisis in salt sector hits 5 lakh people in Gujaratpublished in The Hindu on 25th June 2022

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