Berhampur: The recent cyclone Phailin and subsequent floods have caused a major damage to the century old salt industry in the coastal areas of Ganjam district, affecting the livelihood of around 20,000 people.
"The salt sector has suffered major damage and incurred a huge loss. We are assessing the damage and working on the modalities on how to revive the production" said B P Choudhury, Assistant Director (Salt), of the state Industry Department.
He said this after visiting the salt producing areas like Humma, Ganjam, Sorada and Sumandi in the district.
"While infrastructure facilities like sheds, pump sets, iodisation gowdown, electric transformers have been damaged in the cyclone, there was heavy siltation in the salt fields due to the heavy rains and floods," said Duryodhan Reddy, Secretary of Humma Binchhanapalli Salt Production and Sales Cooperative Society.
Of around 10,000 tonnes of salt stocked in different godowns, about 4,500 tonnes were washed away in the cyclone and floods. The damaged salts belonged to the Bahuda Salt Production and Sales Cooperative Society and private manufacturers, he said.
"Revival of salt production in the district will be difficult unless the government extends support to repair the damaged infrastructure and de-silt the salt-beds" said Goutam Polai, office bearer of the Salt Manufacturers Association.
The cooperative societies have already submitted memoranda to the salt commissioner, central government and industry department of Odisha government seeking their cooperation to revive the century old industry, he said.
The state governments in other major salt producing states like Tamil Nadu, Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh have extended several subsidies to the salt manufacturers, he said.
There are 43 manufactures and two salt cooperative societies in the district. They produce around 15,000 to 20,000 tonnes of salt every year, official sources said.
Besides Ganjam, salt was also produced in Balanga and Astaranga areas in Balasore and Puri districts in the state.