Surendranagar: Salt stocks worth close to Rs 10 crore were washed away at Gujarat's Little Rann of Kutch (LRK) in flooding that occurred due to cyclone Tauktae, people involved in salt production here said on Thursday. As per a rough estimate, around 3 lakh metric tonnes of salt, which was harvested and kept in the open near saltpans for transportation, was destroyed by gusty winds, rain and flooding in the LRK region, part of which falls in Surendranagar.
As the price of one metric tonne of salt in the market is between Rs 300 to Rs 350, the loss is estimated around Rs 10 crore, said Bharat Sumera, district coordinator of Agariya Hitrakshak Samiti, an NGO that works for saltpan workers. April to June is a crucial period for salt farmers, as they start harvesting salt and keep the stock ready for transportation to godowns, he said.
"While around 12 lakh metric tonnes of salt had already been transported to warehouses in Kharaghoda and Zinzuwada, around 3 lakh tonnes were still lying in the saltpans of Surendranagar," Sumera said.
LRK is a desert spread across 5,000 sq km and major part of it falls in Surendranagar district.
At least 10,000 people of Patdi and Dhrangadhra talukas stay in the region for eight months to harvest salt from ground water by creating saltpans.
May is the peak season, when harvested salt is transported to warehouses before monsoon sets in. "To save lives, the administration had evacuated all saltpan workers before the cyclone passed from the district on Tuesday. Since the cyclone brought heavy rains, a large stock of salt got washed away in flood waters. The flooding also destroyed 3,000 saltpans," Sumera said.
As many as 25 large solar panels installed by saltpan workers near their temporary huts were also damaged in the gusty winds and flooding, he said, adding that workers will make a representation to the authorities for compensation.
With 280 lakh tonnes per annum, Gujarat accounts for around 80 per cent of the country's salt production, said Bharat Raval, president of the Indian Salt Manufacturers Association.
"The entire LRK region produces around 18 to 24 lakh metric tonnes of salt annually. It is natural that the cyclone may have destroyed the salt kept in the open. Since workers were already evacuated due to safety concerns, there was no one to keep a watch," he said. A clear picture about the loss will emerge in the coming days, he added.