Admin gears up for revival of salt cluster in Balasore

Balasore: A salt cluster at Bolang in Balasore district is likely to get a fresh lease of life as the district administration is working on a detailed master plan for the revival of the defunct industry here.

Bolang village under Baliapal block of Balasore district was once known for its salt farming through traditional means. However, the salt farmers were forced to quit the traditional professional owing to lack of adequate support from the State government and introduction of iodised salt in the market.

Over 500 families of Bolang village and its nearby areas used to eke out livelihood by extracting natural salt. The first salt co-operative society of Odisha, Bolang Salt Industries and Co-operative Society that was opened to sell the finished salt in the market has now been closed down.

On the other hand, the godown used to stock refined salt and the machines to process the salt have become defunct. The salt farmers alleged that the lack of patronage on the part of the Co-Operative society to revive the defunct factory compelled them to give up the practice.

I have been into salt farming since 1955. However, the co-operative society cheated us. We gave them salt but we were not paid well

—-Kartik Mandal, salt farmer

According to sources, around 837 acres of land was used to extract natural salt. Earlier, sea water used to enter the river through Hansakira lock and was channelized to large tracts of land through a canal. But due to construction of a bridge on the river, water is not being released into the canal which forced the farmers to stop salt farming since the last two years.

Construction of a bridge and a dam is going on for which water is not being released. We had apprised the concerned officials regarding our problems. The authorities refused to release water till the construction work gets over

—Prabhakar Jena, another salt farmer

On the other hand, the State Government has now geared to revive salt farming and the salt co-operative society of Bolang. Besides, the Centre’s National Cooperative Development Corporation (NCDC) is also making efforts to revive the salt production cluster.

With the increase of technology, people are now not willing to do the work manually. However, if we adopt technology to extract and refine salt, people might take up the profession again, said member of Bolang Salt Co-operative Society, Upendra Jena.

A team of NCDC had visited the site last month and we are preparing a detailed project report (DPR) now. We are considering all the aspects such as finance, marketing that can be taken up to revive the defunct industry

—Additional Collector of Balasore, Manas Ranjan Padhi.