Salt threatens eight thousand acres in Jaffna

[TamilNet, Saturday, 11 October 2003, 18:43 GMT]
Yields in more than eight thousand acres of rice fields in Kopay South in the peninsula are steadily declining due to salination of the lands from waters seeping from the saltpans of Chemmani, on the eastern outskirts of the Jaffna town, local farmers told TamilNet Saturday.

The President of the Kopay South Farmers’ Association, Mr. Sinnaiah Sivasupramaniam, said that over the last two years waters seeping from the Chemmani saltern, which are swept by monsoon rains down the incline towards Kopay South, is steadily decreasing yields from the rice fields in his area. Water in several wells in this region is turning brackish, according to him.

Unchecked salination during the war has turned thousands of acres of fertile land in Jaffna and the northwestern part of the Vanni, particularly Pooneryn, into barren expanses.

Mr. Ponnan Kulasekeram at the Manthai Salt Ltd, the partly government owned company that manages the Chemmani facility, told TamilNet that salt water may indeed be seeping towards Kopay South as there are large amounts of salt lying in the pans for want of buyers.

“Although production of salt here has increased in the last two years, sales in Jaffna and outstations have dropped largely because attractively packaged, aggressively promoted and cheaper salt brands from Colombo dominate the market in the peninsula today”, Mr. Kulasekeram said.

He attributed the stagnation of unsold salt in the pans for the seepage that is damaging the rice fields.

“If the seepage continues the eight thousand acres will become uncultivable eventually. It won’t stop here the menace would then spread further southeast as far as Madduvil”, the President of the Kopay South Farmers’ Association warns.

Madduvil is an agricultural region in the Chavakachcheri region in Jaffna.

Mr. Sivasupramaniam told TamilNet that his association sent a petition to the Government Agent (GA) of Jaffna on Thursday.

Asked about the petition, Additional GA for Jaffna, Ms. Paththiniamma Thilakanayam Paul, told TamilNet that her officials are now studying the problem as presented by the Chemmani salttern and the people of Kopay South.


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