Thursday, January 27, 2022
Deutsche Welle

WATCH: Salt lake workers in Sindh live a hard life

Many workers sustain injuries due to toxicity of salty water but neither do they get medical attention, nor do they receive wages they deserve

Deutsche Welle

The Achro Thar desert in Sindh is known for its stunning white sand dunes and the several salt lakes situated in the heart of the desert. However, people working to extract salt from the lakes live a hard life.

According to a video report by German international broadcaster Deutsche Welle (DW), the salt extracted from the lakes is a major source of revenue for the locals.

During the monsoon season, Achro Thar lakes attract a large number of tourists.

Haji, from Achro Thar, has been associated with the salt lake for the last 40 years. Every day, his task is to extract salt from the water, the DW video report said.

His hands become dry and stiff while scooping salt out of the water, and his feet are frequently injured.

The video reported that the workers at the Achro Thar salt lake don't wear any protective gear while working.

Haji told DW that he gets injured when separating salt from water. "Our hands become stiff while working, so we either rub hot oil on them or hold hot bread in our palms to relax them. We work in the salt lake all year," said Haji.

At one corner of the lake, workers would be separating salt from the lake's bed in order to dry it. And on another, some more would be seen busy filling large white bags with dried salt.

According to DW, labourers gets Rs10 for a 30 to 40 kg bag of salt.

The salt lake is the main source of revenue in Achro Thar, according to Mohabbat, a labourer.

"In summers, we start working at 7am, however, during the winter, we start at 8am," he told DW.

Despite the fact that Achro Thar produces valuable natural resources of salt in abundance, the natives are mostly associated with labour work or cattle farming, the report said.

Since these workers do not have access to education or adequate health care, they are at a disadvantage.

According to Abdul Jabbar, a local retired schoolteacher, labourers' feet get injured because the water contains salt, which is harmful and toxic for the skin.

"They don't have any protective footwear or gear for their feet, they should take safety precautions," he said. "Another issue is that they do not receive the wages that they deserve."

"They will be able to better raise their children if they make more money," he added.

The salt produced in Achro Thar is sent for sale throughout Pakistan. The majority of the salt industry is controlled by private enterprises. However, providing these workers with a fair and timely wage remains a major problem.