Ruling out the possibility of shortage of salt in the country, the salt commissioner of India and the traders’ body, Indian Salt Manufacturers’ Association (Isma), said the scarcity was artificially created by vested interests.
Rumours of shortage triggered panic buying of salt in eastern states, causing salt prices to touch Rs 200. Isma officials said every state got salt as per the quota fixed by the salt commissioner, and there was enough stock to cater to the demand.
“There is no scarcity at all. Most of the states have nearly 20-50 per cent of excess storage of salt than their requirement. Bihar, Odisha and West Bengal have reported excess salt in their storage than their requirement,” said M A Ansari, the salt commissioner of India. “Even if there is a shortage, we are capable to supply it to any part of the country within three days with the help of railways. The panic is unnecessary and baseless.”
The Isma officials said India consumed about 7.5 million tonnes of edible salt, of which 60-65 per cent was supplied from Gujarat. The salt commissioner of India monitors th supply to the states.
According to data, India produced around 24 million tonnes of salt in 2012-13, of which around 8.8 million tonnes was consumed by industries, while around 5 million tonnes was exported.
“Recent spurt in salt prices in states, including Odisha, Bihar, West Bengal and Meghalaya, was the result of an artificial shortage created by a group of traders,” said B C Rawal, the secretary of Isma.
Isma dismissed the allegation that manufacturers were behind this. “Salt distribution is a central subject. Neither a state government nor the manufacturers have any role in the distribution. Either the salt supply is not properly channelised or the dealers are creating artificial scarcity,” Rawal added.
The salt commissioner said a public appeal had been issued in this regard to quell rumours. “We are surprised to see why this happened especially at a time when most states have salt more than their requirement. The Centre and the state governments are taking action against people spreading rumours,” the official added.