Salt town ‘Phalodi’ losing sheen, workers in trouble

Phalodi: Phalodi, known as the salt town in Rajasthan’s Jodhpur district, is losing its sheen. The workers engaged in salt preparation are faced with multiple problems. Reen village, around 20 kilometres from Phalodi town, is famous for its salt business, and also known for its record-breaking heat during summers.

The salt business in Phalodi town began in 1960. The water level used to be low but as the salty water increased, water level also rose by around 100 feet. Reen’s temperature is suitable for salt extraction for which the normal temperature should be 15 to 16-degree centigrade. From salt extraction to packing, the entire procedure is done in Reen village.

Though the salt industry has brightened the prospects of locals, the workers engaged in salt preparation and packing are faced with various problems. Udam Ram Meghwal, a salt worker working for 10 years, said, “It gets very hard to work here in high temperature. Facilities are not up to the mark.”

Remuneration the workers get here are also not adequate. “We receive only Rs 200 to Rs 300 for a day. Our survival remains always tough for us,” Meghwal told ANI. “During the rainy season, the industry shuts for two months. We are left with no other source of income. Our life is completely dependent on the salt industry,” he added.

Voicing similar concerns, another local Niranjan Vyas said producing salt is the only business in Reen village. “Years ago, the condition of this business was good but now due to poor transport facilities, the business is going down,” he said.

“It is believed that Tata and Nirma companies used to buy salt from here but because of transportation and other issues, they did not continue. The quality of salt here is the best in the country,” he added.

According to Vyas, currently, the salt is mainly transported to Punjab and Haryana from Phalodi. More than 500 salt units are operational in the area. “If the transportation facilities are improved along with the working conditions for the workers, things will certainly improve not only for the industry but also for the workers,” added Vyas.