India is among the leading salt producing countries in the world. The salt workers produce salt for eight months a year in a harsh coastal and desert environment.
Workers borrow money from traders and money lenders to operate and maintain the diesel pumps used in the salt production process. They repay the loan with the salt they produce. Including children as young as 10 working hard in the harsh sun all day using a harvesting technique unchanged in decades. The government provides inexpensive runner boots & gloves but they wear out quickly & there is no replacement for that. With insufficient Medical facilities the salt pan workers hardly live for more than 50-60 yrs. Wages are so low & offer few chances for the children of salt pans workers to escape a cycle of poverty & poor health. Even after death salt pan workers suffer an ignoble fate, their hands and feet are difficult to burn during the cremation because of the excessive salt content. Exposure to salt also causes various skin diseases ti the salt pan workers. “ We produce the most important food ingredient, but we are never given enough importance & returns. Poverty is our fate. ” a father of three said to me. Life remains harsh for salt pan workers. I followed some salt pan workers to in Mumbai to produce this body of work.