BHUBANESWAR: Salt producers have urged the state government to include salt industry in the agriculture sector and provide them all necessary benefits like farmers. They also demanded funds for development of the salt industry.
Major salt producing states like Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Gujarat have already given agriculture status to salt farming and provided sops like cooperative loan and electricity at concessional rates to this sector, secretary of Humma and Binchanapalli salt production and sale cooperative society of Ganjam district Duryodhan Reddy said.
Reddy said they cannot avail all such benefits under the department of micro, small and medium enterprises (MSME). He said their society, which has been raising the issue repeatedly, submitted a memorandum to chief minister Naveen Patnaik during his poll campaign in Ganjam district.
He said they also drew the attention of the chief minister that how the salt production was affected for two years due to adverse weather conditions and expansion of Chilika lake's mouth.
Odisha State Salt Workers Welfare Cooperative Corporation of Jagatsinghpur in a separate memorandum sent to secretary of MSMEdepartment recently also urged the government for allocation of more funds in the supplementary budget for development of the salt industry.
Official sources said four salt producing districts of Ganjam, Balasore, Jagatsinghpur and Puri produce about 35,000 tonnes of salt per annum. The salt is produced in over 5,000 hectares of swampy land during summer and over 10,000 people are engaged in it. Ganjam produces 90% of the salt manufactured in the state.
An officer in the MSME department said the Central Salt and Marine Chemical Research Institute recently submitted a survey report on salt trade in Odisha and gave suggestions for improvement of the sector. It also stressed on private participation.
He said the government would examine the matter. He said as far as support from the state government to salt sector is concerned, the directorate of industries provided Rs 12.46 lakh financial assistance during 2012-13 to Humma's society for improvement in the salt sector. He said this society is one of the four primary cooperative societies functioning in the state's salt sector.