The sacredness and dignity of salt is described in the words of JEAN DE MARCOUNILLE in 1584 as "This mineral is like unto the four elements-earth, air, fire and water. So universal so necessary to life, it is the fifth element."
Salt was the word originally meant for the residue left by evaporation of sea water. Afterwards the same included all substances held in solution in sea water. Chemists ultimately extended the name to cover all combinations of an acid and a base. Sodium Chloride (Nacl), now called common salt, is an example of the simplest type of chemical salt. A molecule of common salt contains an atom of Chlorine combined with 23 parts by weight of Sodium to form 58.5 parts of common salt.
Salt is highly soluble in water, 100 parts of which dissolve 37 parts of salt. Salt is fairly hard. Common salt is a crystalline substance; crystals generally form cubes and sometimes form octahedrons. The form of crystals depends on temperature, state of rest of motion, length of time, etc. Salt has a perfect cleavage.
Orissa is bestowed with a long coast line of about 480 kms. which runs along the west of Bay of Bengal from the mouth of the river Subarnarekha of Balasore district in the north to Sumandi of Ganjam district in South. Salt was manufactured from time immemorial along the extensive saltiferous tracts of Orissa. The salt industry is having bright prospects and can create Better Avenue for providing employment opportunities. It gives subsidiary employment to many agricultural labourers in the off season which also coincides with the period of salt production.
“Salt” is a central subject in the constitution of India and appears at item No. 58 of the Union list of the 7th schedule, which reads:
(a) Manufacture, supply and distribution of salt by Union agencies; and
(b) Regulation and control of manufacture, supply and distribution of salt by other agencies.
Salt is produced in ten States and one Union Territory. The details of salt production are shown in Table-3.1. The production of salt in our country during 2001 was 142.84 lakh tonnes as against the target of 135 lakh tonnes. Export of salt touched a record of 16.13 lakh tonnes during the year 2001 as against 10.57 lakh tonnes in 2000.
At present, salt is manufactured in our State in the coastal districts of Ganjam, Puri and Balasore, both in cooperative fold and private sector. At present 5 co-operative societies are engaged in salt production in the State, where as 39 private licensees are also manufacturing salt only in Ganjam district. The average production of salt in our State is about 30,000 MT to 40,000 MT as against the requirement of about 3.00 lakh metric tonnes per annum.
The average production of salt in our State is about 10 MTs per acre whereas the average production of salt of the major salt producing states like Tamilnadu, Gujurat and Rajasthan is about 70 MTs per acre. This is mainly due to unfavourable topography and less numbers of no rainfall days.
In order to make the State self-sufficient in production of salt, a huge patch of land suitable for salt-production have been identified, the details of such land identified are as follows:
i) Chandbali Tahasil 2,993.05 acres
ii) Basudevapur Tahasil 4,503.23 acres
iii) Soro Tahasil 9,000.00 acres
iv) Jaleswar Tahasil 2,450.00 acres
TOTAL 18,946.28 acres
M/s. Well Brines Chemicals Ltd., Chennai have applied for long term lease of 16,496.28 acres of land in Balasore and Bhadrak districts for production of salt. Meanwhile, the State Govt. has leased out 1921.74 acres of land in Chandbali tahasil of Bhadrak district in favour of M/s. Well Brines Chemicals Ltd., for production of salt. Another firm, M/s. Shree Vinayak Salt Works(P) Ltd., has applied for grant of lease of 2450 acres in Chandaneswar area under Jaleswar Tahasil in Balasore district for production of salt, which is under consideration. Once these areas come under salt cultivation, the requirement of our state can be fulfilled. In addition, the unemployment problem in the coastal rural areas can also be solved to some extent by bringing the potential areas under salt cultivation as the salt industry is highly labour intensive. Thus, development of salt industry in the state is not only an economic proposition, but also an imperative necessity.
The District-wise production of salt & employment during last three years are shown in Table - 3.2.
TABLE - 3.2