The intermittent showers have saved the paddy fields of Vedaranyam, but have left telltale marks on acres of salt pans here.
With rains lashing at different stages of the production season, manufacturers were forced to abort production.
The impact led to a whopping 30 per cent shortfall in production when compared to last year. As a consequence, a price hike is imminent, feel producers, much to the disappointment of the common man who has already been squeezed with a inflation.
Vedaranyam produces 5 lakh tonnes of salt annually, only next to Thoothukudi in terms of volumes in the State.
The tale of woes begun with irregular rains lashing during the months of January, February and March this year which forced several producers to suspend production at the preliminary level itself. Delayed production could begin only in April, but this time it was plagued by an intrusion of sea water and again intermittent showers in the first week of October.
According to the small scale salt producers at Vedaranyam, the process of draining the inundated rain water from the salt pans had consumed a lot of time for the salt manufacturers. Speaking to Express, V Senthil, Secretary of Vedaranyam Small Scale Salt Producers Association said, “Compared to the previous year, we witnessed a lot of natural barriers this season to complete the salt production.
He added that usually the salt production process at Vedaranyam begins by late January on 9, 000 acres and would be completed by October. “Showers in the first week of October forced us to complete production early. The total production has been around 3.5 lakh tonnes.” he said.
Due to the shortfall, a tonne of salt is expected to swing between `800 and `1,000 in the ensuing months, compared to Rs 600 a tonne last year.
At Vedaranyam, as many 20,000 workers are directly and indirectly dependent on the salt production activities, and the salt produced from the Vedaranyam salt pans caters to the needs of neighbouring states including Kerala, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh.