As court’s eviction deadline ends, small scale salt producers in Vedaranyam seek help from State

Small scale salt production is usually carried out over 3,000 acres at villages in Vedaranyam block. Two corporate firms produce salt on about 6,000 acres of State-owned land.

Published: 02nd April 2022 12:05 PM  |   Last Updated: 02nd April 2022 12:05 PM   |  A+A-

A worker collects salt from a pan at Agasthiyampalli near Vedaranyam | Antony Fernando

A worker collects salt from a pan at Agasthiyampalli near Vedaranyam | Antony Fernando

Express News Service

NAGAPATTINAM: With the three-month eviction deadline granted by the Madras High Court coming to an end, small-scale salt producers at Vedaranyam in the district have sought the help of the State government in convincing the Centre for renewal of their licences for salt pans.

Small scale salt production is usually carried out over 3,000 acres at villages in Vedaranyam block. Two corporate firms produce salt on about 6,000 acres of State-owned land.

The small scale producers, seeking renewal of their 20-year lease of salterns that expired in 2021, moved the Madras High Court. The court, however, on December 22, 2021 dismissed a clutch of petitions, including theirs, and directed the salt producers to leave the licence-expired premises within three months.
The small scale salt producers in Vedaranyam, who are carrying out activity in the continued hope of automatic licence renewal for their salt pans, now seek help from the State government.

V Senthil, the secretary of Vedaranyam Salt Scale Salt Manufacturers Federation, said, "The ouster from our salt pans would affect the livelihood of hundreds of producers and thousands of workers. We still request the Union government to renew our lease. We seek the help of the State government in mediating and convincing the Centre on automatic licence renewal."

"Salt production is like agriculture. Our ancestors produced salt for free pre-Independence, before the lands were made assets by the Union government. We are abiding by laws, produce salt, and contribute to revenue. Where will go if we are asked to leave after producing for decades?" A Vedarathinam, a representative of salt producers, asked.

Salt producers also claimed that they shell out `15 lakh as the annual rental fee for production over 3,000 acres to the Salt Commissionerate, while the latter only pays about `4200 in annual rental fee for 3,000 acres to the Sri Vadaranyeswarar temple which has given the land on permanent lease to the government.

When enquired, an official from the Salt Commissionerate in Chennai said, "The court has directed us to take over the salt pans and auction them as soon as possible. We are currently in the process of taking over. We would serve the eviction notices to the salt producers and give them some time to clear their establishments. The processes are on unless there is an interim order from the court or a direction from the ministry to halt."



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