Salt Sector Crisis

GS Paper – 3 Mobilization of Resources

Why in the news?

  • The salt industry is facing great hurdles in meeting demand and dealing with the crises that salt producers and workers are experiencing.
  • While farmers are suffering from low prices due to the lack of minimum support prices, employees are also suffering from a lack of sufficient pay and social security provisions.

What is the status of the Salt Sector?


  • India is the world’s third largest producer of salt, trailing only the United States and China.
  • Sea salt accounts for over 70% of total salt output in the country.
  • Salt production takes place in the coastal states of Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Orissa, West Bengal Goa, and Rajasthan.
  • Gujarat produces approximately 28.5 million tonnes of salt per year, accounting for more than 80% of total output in the country.


  • The global salt production is currently 200 million tonnes, and it is steadily increasing.
  • This massive amount of salt is produced not just for human use, but also for non-edible and industrial purposes.

What are the Production Methods?

Method of Solar Evaporation:

  • Solar salt manufacturing is typically accomplished by collecting salt water in shallow ponds where the sun evaporates the majority of the water.

Method of mining rock salt:

  • Salt exists as deposits in old subsurface seabeds that were buried over thousands of years due to geological processes. Many salt mines employ the “room and pillar” mining approach.
  • Shafts are dug to the mine floor, and rooms are painstakingly built by drilling, cutting, and blasting between the shafts in a checkerboard pattern.
  • A conveyor belt transports the salt to the surface after it has been extracted and crushed. The majority of the salt generated in this manner is used as rock salt.

Method of Vacuum Evaporation:

  • It entails the evaporation of salt brine using steam heat in huge commercial evaporators known as vacuum pans.
  • This process produces a very pure salt with a fine texture that is primarily utilised in applications that require the finest quality salt.

What exactly is the Salt Sector Crisis?

Minimum Support Cost:

  • The Indian Salt Manufacturers’ Association (ISMA) has demanded that salt production be classified as an agricultural activity under the ministry of agriculture, rather than an industry under the ministry of industries and mines.
  • Mining yields only about 0.5 percent salt. 99.5 percent of salt is created from sea water or subsoil water, and the entire process involves seeding, farming, and harvesting.
  • Unseasonal rainfall and flooding are increasing demand for the Minimum Support Price.
  • The Minimum Support Price (MSP) is a type of market intervention used by the Government of India to protect agricultural producers from significant drops in farm prices.
  • The main goals are to support farmers through distress sales and to get food grains for public distribution.

Earnings and Social Security:

  • Companies have largely replaced cooperatives in determining labour salaries and farmer output. The majority of them are migrant workers.
  • The cooperative sector is largely inactive. Workers face major health problems and economic hardship because there are no minimum salaries or social security.
  • In Morbi, 12 people were killed when the wall of a packaging unit collapsed.
  • Projects such as Rann Sarovar, a 5,000-square-kilometer freshwater lake building project, will employ approximately 50,000 people.

What is the Government’s Role in the Development of Salt Industries?

  • Salt is a central subject mentioned as item 58 of the Union List of the Constitution’s 7th Schedule. It’s classified as a mining industry
  • The Government of India has de-licensed the salt industry by eliminating salt-related sections from the Central Excise & Salt Act of 1944.
  • The Salt Commissioner’s Organization facilitates the general growth and development of the country’s salt industry.
  • It is necessary to establish a separate nodal body with common rules and regulations for salt production. Minimum wages and social security must be guaranteed through a unified national policy.


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