India is the third largest salt producing country in the world (after the US and China) with an average annual production of about 148 lakh tones.
In a very short period of time sufficiency was achieved (in 1953) and made a dent the export market. Since then, the country has never resorted to imports. Exports touched an all time high of 1.6 million in the year 2001.
The per-capita consumption of salt in the country is estimated at about 12 kg, which includes edible as well as industrial salt. The current annual requirement of salt in the country is estimated to be 60 lakhs tones for industrial use. Caustic soda, soda ash, chlorine etc., are the major salt-based industries. Besides about 15 lakhs tones of salt is exported every year.
Sea salt constitutes about 70% of the total salt production in the country. Salt manufacturing activities are carried out in the coastal states of Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Orissa, West Bengal Goa and hinter land State of Rajasthan. Among these States only Gujarat, Tamil Nadu and Rajasthan produces salt surplus to their requirement. These three states produce about 70%, 15% and 12% respectively of the total salt produced in the country and cater to the requirement of all the salt deficit and non-salt producing states.
Private sector plays a dominant role contributing over 95% of the salt production, while the public sector contributes about 2-3%. The co-operative sector contributes about 8% whereas the small-scale sector (less than 10 acres) accounts for nearly 40% of the total salt production in the country.
Salt Works And Acreage Under Salt Production
There are about 10107 salt works, mostly in small sector engaged in the production of salt. The total area under salt production is about 5.0 lakhs acres. The salt manufacturing activities provide direct employment to about one-lakh presons per day.
Distribution of Salt
Railways play an important role in transporting salt from three surplus states to the entire length and breadth of the country. On an average, 55% of edible salt is transported by rail from production centers. The remaining quantity moves by road and waterway.
With a vies to ensure universal access of iodised salt for the prevention and control of goiter and other iodine deficiency disorders in the country, Salt Commissioner's Office has been identified as the nodal agency for creation of adequate salt iodisation capacity, its distribution and quality monitoring at production centers, under NIDDCP. Salt Department has granted permission to more than 878 salt iodisatios units with an annual installed capacity of 112 lakh tones so far.
Export of common salt and iodised salt is permitted under Open General License (O.G.L.). Salt is exported manly to Japan, Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Nepal, and Bhutan etc.
India has, for the fist time, exported 32,500 tonnes of common salt to the US during December 2002, creating a history of sorts.
Liberalizatin and Simplification of Procedure
Following amendments to Central Excise and Salt Act, 1944 in 1996, de-licensing the salt industry and salt Cess Rules, 1964 in 2001 and introducing self-removal procedure (SRP) instead of permit system for payment of cess and removal of salt from salt factories, several registers have been discontinued or re-organised.