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Ground rent hike hits salt manufacturers

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OST Bureau

Brahmapur, Dec 11:

Salt manufacturers in Ganjam district, already reeling under the impact of Cyclone Phailin and the subsequent floods that ravaged the state’s coastal districts in October, received yet another body blow after the Centre increased the ground rent for salt manufacturers by a substantial amount.salt-manufacture

Official sources said while the Centre has increased the ground rent from Rs 5 to Rs 120 per acre, it has also hiked assignment charge (a levy on production) from Rs 4 to Rs 100 per tonne per annum.

An order in this regard that reached the state government in November seeks application of the hike from January 2012 with retrospective effect, said sources.

Since most of the salt manufactures in Ganjam operate on land leased out by the central government, they will be hit really hard by the hike, sources said.

Ganjam is a major salt-producing district in the state with farming in over 5,000 acre. There are 43 manufactures, including private entrepreneurs and two salt cooperative societies. They produce around 15,000 to 20,000 tonnes of salt every year from sea water.

Salt Superintendent, Humma , H K Agrawala said the decision will be implemented across the state very soon.

On the other hand, salt manufacturers have urged the Centre to reconsider its decision.

President of Salt Manufacturers’ Association, Goutam Pollai said salt manufacturers are already ruined due to natural calamities and added that they will be appealing to the government for a rollback.

Industry sources said facilities like sheds, pump sets, iodization godown and electric transformers have been badly damaged in the calamities and heavy siltation has occurred in fields due to rain and floods.

Moreover, at least Rs 10,000 is required to de-silt an acre to start production, the source added.