JAIPUR : The bird tragedy at the Sambhar Lake in Rajasthan has severely impacted the salt industry in the area. A ban has been imposed on trading salt as authorities suspect the new crop could be contaminated. Nearly 40,000 people are employed in the salt industry that has an annual turnover that runs into thousands of crores.Over 18,000 birds died near the Sambhar Lake and an investigation revealed that Avian Botulism germs were responsible for the deaths. The Salt Commissionerate issued circulars to over a 1,000 units producing salt.
Thousands of dead bodies of the birds dissolved in water, which is why this step is being taken by the Commissionerate of Salt. Rajasthan Refined Salt Manufacturers Association’s President, Anil Gattani said, “Salt is not being manufactured in the areas where the dead birds have been found.”Almost 70% of the salt production in the country is in Gujarat, but a large part of the remaining 30% salt production is from Sambhar Lake. It produces about 25-30 lakh tons of salt annually.
“We have only given information to the Health Ministry about the places where birds have died and buried. After the disclosure that the birds have died due to bacteria and viruses, the Health Ministry has to investigate whether there is infection of salt in the new crop. We can only do chemical investigation of salt,” said a senior official.
“Traders are making unnecessary hue and cry. We have not stopped them from trading. They can trade the old crop by giving an undertaking to us and the option to sell the new crop to salt-based industries other than human use is open to them and will continue,” the official added.