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Plight of saltpan workers

Praveen Paul Joseph

— Photo: N. Rajesh.

Waterlogged:Rainwater stagnating in a saltpan in Tuticorin.

Tuticorin: Heavy rain in Tuticorin district and stagnation of water in saltpans have affected the livelihood of workers, who, by and large, depend on salt manufacturing units.

Over 25,000 people are working in saltpans. They fear losing jobs during the rainy days.

Production of salt has come to nought when the workforce is not able to deliver the goods. S. Pattam, a 35-year-old man, who is working at a pan in Tharuvaikulam, said during the rainy days they had to make a tough living.

“ I have learnt working only at saltpans and there is no alternative to make my living.”

M. Muniyasami, a saltpan worker in Tuppaspatti, said that he was not familiar with other jobs.

The scope of work for the workers at pan was limited with no options left.

“With an interest-free loan from the manufacturers, I manage to meet the expenditure somehow to run my family. The workers can earn only a paltry sum of daily wage normally during the work time but unfavourable conditions at workplace with rainwater worsens our livelihood. Sometimes, we have to depend on money lenders,” Mr. Muniyasami said.

S. Petchimuthu, a proprietor of a saltpan, said salt was being manufactured on more than 30, 000 acres in the district. The business is progressing on a small scale as well as tiny scale basis.

The number of workers at pans is decreasing every year. Referring to the plight of saltpan workers, Mr. Petchimuthu said they belonged to the unorganised sector working class.

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