Direction of NGT
The central zonal bench of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) has directed the Rajasthan government to cancel allotments of salt pans in the Sambhar Salt Lake that fall within the wetland and run contrary to the mandate of Wetland Rules, 2010.
Illegal brine extraction
The illegal business of brine (water strongly impregnated with salt) extraction in the Sambhar Lake was first highlighted in the fact-finding report in 2010.The report had mentioned that 15-20 borewells were operating in every bigha of land during that period and over exploitation of water resources had lowered the groundwater level by almost 60 metres in the area.
While Sambhar Salts Ltd (SSL), a government venture, which has over 90 square miles at Sambhar and Nawa, produces two lakh tonnes of salt per annum, private companies together make around 20 lakh tonnes a year.
What are salt pans?
Salt evaporation ponds, also called salterns or salt pans, are shallow artificial ponds designed to extract salts from sea water or other brines. The seawater or brine is fed into large ponds and water is drawn out through natural evaporation which allows the salt to be subsequently harvested.