The heavy winds in this coastal district has brought temporary relief for people here who were waiting for relief from the scorching summer heat for the last two months. But for salt manufacturers at Vedaranyam, the change in weather has added a tinge of misery. Salt production here was taken a beating due to the flooding of sea water in salt pans in which production was nearly complete.
The Vedaranyam salt pans which produce around five lakh tonnes of salt each year, and stand next only to Thoothukudi in quantum of salt produced in TN, have registered grave losses as unseasonal rains lashed the region during January, February and March, delaying the commencement of salt production.
Only by the first week of April, these salt pans began their production belatedly, and a fall in production by 15-25 percent was expected, leading to speculation of rise in salt prices. A metric tonne of salt was sold between Rs 500 to Rs 800 in 2012, and due to the reported shortage, the estimated price for a metric tonne this year is expected to hover between Rs 800 and Rs 1,000. Speaking to Express, V Senthil, secretary, Vedaranyam Salt Producers Association, said, “For the last few days, salt production was hit by flooding of sea water and violent winds. Earlier, it was unseasonal rains that hindered production at the preliminary stages.”
Manufacturers say that production of 2,000 tonnes of salt is underway across 100 acres. But with the recent rains and winds, it would take at least a month for water to drain away and dry, as per methodology followed by manufacturers.
“We have to use electric motors to pump seawater off the concentrated brine. It will certainly take some time to complete the production,” he added.
“As much as 9,000 acres of salt pans are directly involved in salt production and this include 6,000 acres owned by private companies.