In order to solve issues related to the salt industry in Gujarat, the manufacturers of the commodity in the state are demanding a separate Salt Act as well as the appointment of a nodal agency like Central Salt and Marine Research Institute (CSMRI).
“The salt manufacturers in Gujarat are facing problems related to approval of new leases as well as renewal of salt pan leases due to unclear guidelines. As a result of it, salt manufacturers have to depend solely on the revenue officials’ interpretation of laws,” said Bharat Raval, president of Indian Salt Manufacturers Association (ISMA).
Production and supply of salt has traditionally been regulated by the salt commissioner’s office situated in Jaipur, said Raval.
Recently, however, the central government has decided to close this office and has given authority to respective state governments to deal with matters related to salt industry. As result of it, salt manufacturers have to solely depend on local revenue officials of the government of Gujarat who are not having expertise of the subject, but are also busy with other revenue related work, he added.
“Salt manufacturers in Gujarat want separate Salt Act under which matters related to renewal of leases as well a fresh leases should be addressed using latest technology. For the purpose, the state government can take assistance of Bhavnagar-based CSMRI and come out with clear guidelines for salt pan leases to make leasing process transparent,” said Raval.
ISMA wants a specialised body with technical expertise related to salt industry to regulate and monitor the production processes. The apex organisation also wants the body to coordinate with Indian Railways to solve transportation related issues of the salt industry.
Gujarat is the largest producer of salt in India with over 80% share. As per the figure given by ISMA, India had produced nearly 286 lakh tonne of salt and exported around 102 lakh tonne in different countries during the financial year 2018-19. Apart from Gujarat, six other states, including Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, West Bengal and Odisha produce salt. After China and the US, India stands third in the world as far as production of salt is concerned.