Soumayan Biswas – Salt Worker
Long before the advent of British rule in Bengal, the salt industry was developed in its coastal belt stretching over about 700 mile.
The prominent places of production were Tamlook and Hijli in the Midnapore district, the Sunderbans in the 24 Parganas, and Noakhali and Chittagong in the present-day Bangladesh.
During the Mughal period, the salt merchants enjoyed the highest status in the trading society, and its highest bidder received the title of fakir-ul-Tejar. The technology of the industry was,
however, based on traditional knowledge and practices, requiring locally manufactured implements. Since the caste-based division of work largely prevailed in the society,
it percolated down the generations. Though, under the governance of the English East India Company, several reforms were tried on the industry’s organizational aspects, its traditional technology was left unaltered.
In 1836, the industry turned over around 246,000 t, giving employment to about 16,500 salt workers.But in the current situation this industry is not in a very good condition. Going on somehow just to survive in the current era of competition.
My pictures are the tough real life stories where a lot of sweat makes a little salt.