Pernem Taluka Mith Utpadak Sangha
(For Assistance to Salt – producers of Pernem)
Agarwado – Pernem
The father of nation, Mahatma Gandhi undertook the famous DANDI MARCH to offer Salt-Satyagraha, in 1930.
During this period Goa under the Portuguese occupation was exporting Salt to rest of India and countries in Africa.
After India’s independence Salt-production, being a traditional village industry was given constitutional protection. An office of National Salt Commissioner was established at Jaipur – Rajasthan.
However, the Salt-industry in Goa did not receive any encouragement after liberation. As a result number of villages producing Salt was reduced, number of Saltpans decreased and the Salt-production fell drastically.
Despite lack of support from the government of Goa in production and marketing villages like Agarwado in Pernem, Nerul in Bardez, Merces and Bhatim in Tiswadi, Sirlim in Salcete have been striving hard to keep the industry alive.
Needless to say, Salt-production is environmentally clean, non-polluting, low-capital, labour intensive, employment generating rural economic activity, which should get full government support.
That’s why the Salt-producers of Agarwado-Pernem make this appeal to solve their problems and help them to raise their production.
1. Problems of Agarwado Salt-producers
Agarwado as the name itself implies is one of the ancient Salt-production centre on the West-coast. It is situated a few kilometres from the Arabian Sea on the north bank of Chapora river.
More than sixty families of Agarwado derive their livelihood from Salt-production.
Agarwado Salt, being purest of natural Salt in Goa, with less silt and sand is highly prized.
The total 16 Saltpans in the village only 4 are presently used for Salt production and 3 are practically damaged.
The rest 9 have been damaged due to destruction of outer protective embankment and sluice gates since 1987-88. This caused a loss of Rs. 8.9 lakhs / year.
Wave-action has caused massive erosion of outer embankments. Four large breaches haves wrecked havoc by incessantly flooding the Saltpans.
The outer embankment known as “AGOR POILEM” needs immediate attention.
The Saltpans are inaccessible from the main road, thus marketing becomes expensive. An approach road from the Ferry-wharf at Chopadem may solve the problem.
The time required for preparation of Saltpans is normally 90 – 100 days. This is mainly because of non-availability of diesel pumps for removing water from the Saltpans. Agarwado Salt-pans are constructed below the sea level for intake of water.
Provision of diesel-pump on subsidised basis will help in reducing pre-production period.
There is no minimum price support policy for locally manufactured Salt. This leads to dumping of sub-standard, adulterated with sand at cheap rates forcing Agarwado Salt-producers to lower their prices.
There’ re effective solutions to the above problems, which the government need to apply.
Suggested solutions for solving Agarwado-Salt-producers problem:
Immediate survey and reconstruction of the eroded “AGOR POILEM” bundh on permanent basis;
Reconstruction of damaged sluice gates regulating “saline-water” intake in 4 damaged Saltpans;
Widening of “AGOR POILEM” bundh so as facilitate transport of light-goods vehicles for speedy, cheap transport of Salt;
Provision of diesel-pump sets to Salt-producers on subsidised basis for the production season;
Notification of Salt as commodity under state marketing act and declaration of minimum support price;
Grading of locally produced crude Salt;
Encouragement to set-up co-operative society for producing refined White Salt and Iodised Salt.
2. Economic fallout of Govt. action:
Government intervention will enthuse not only Agarwado Salt-producers but also other Salt-producers in Goa. Many damaged Saltpans could be reclaimed with government assistance.
Reconstruction of “AGOR-POILEM” bundh and sluice gates will help in commencing production in 12 damaged Saltpans.
Salt-production in Agarwado will increase from present 750-1000 Mt. To 1000 -1500 Mt/year.
This will provide direct employment to 70 persons and indirect employment to 100 people.
Salt-trade will boost from Rs.5-8 lakhs/year to Rs.10-14 lakhs/year.
Government assistance will also help the producers to use their Saltpans as multipurpose production units for producing “prawns, brine-shrimps, alga bio fertilisers and valuable medicinal seaweed’s, using latest technology.
Plan of action:
Concerned government departments such as RDA, soil conservation, Industries & Mines, Revenue need to co-operate.
A high level meeting comprising above departments and representatives of Panchayat, Salt-producers need to be held followed immediately by “on the spot inspection”.
A time bound plan to implement the solutions as suggested need to be prepared.
Since RDA and soil conservation dept. will have to play an active role they need to closely liase with the committee of Agarwado Salt-producers.
It is hoped that government will take positive steps to remedy the situation by reconstructing the bundhs so as to make Salt-production viable from 1994-95 seasons.