We are in the Little Rann of Kutch, geologically a unique desert landscape in Surendranagar district in Gujarat. The areas surrounding this harsh desert once used to be the base for salt-manufacturing under British Raj and continue to be so to this day.
The surrounding Kharaghoda, a census town, is where the salt production is done. The arid region has expanses of salt pans and various salt factories. It has been the case for years, making Gujarat the largest salt producer of India and third largest in the world, after the US and China.
Ironically, for workers toiling on the marshy lands and in the mega factories of Kharaghoda, the remunerations remain minimal in comparison to the efforts put for the large quantities of the precious white grains produced here.
“On an average, I earn about INR 300 a day,” says a female worker at a salt factory in Kharaghoda. She works with her family members at the factory and together, they make ends meet.
And, while for some, the work remains bound on the walls of a salt factory, for some it’s about putting labour at the salt pans in the area. It is backbreaking work, but men and women take it in their stride and toil on the dry, barren lands.