Life of Jena Ben - the Salt pan worker

Updated: Mar 18, 2019

The criss cross of angles, and the multi colored floating rectangles – this landscape of Rann of Kutch is profound, breathtaking and splendid . The snowy-white color of salt makes an unblemished subject for tourists, journalists and photographers alike. This is where I foray into the lives of the salt Pan workers

Salt pans of Gujarat industrial photograph
Salt pans appear in different colors based on salinity and formation of algae. The colors vary from hues of green, pink and red

Zoom in on the ground and the image is in sharp contrast to what is seen from a distance. The colors and glamour quickly fades as I walk around and meet Jena Ben- the salt Pan worker. Rann of Kutch is a seasonal salt marsh and is a thriving salt industry that produces three quarters of India’s white salt and employes close to hundred thousand ‘Agariyas’ as salt farmers. The Agariyas have lived in and around this area and have been salt farmers for many generations.

I followed Jena Ben, a 56 year old Agariya Muslim salt worker to get a glimpse of her life working in these salt pans. Jena Ben has worked in this salt pan her entire living memory. This is her only means of livelihood and her entire family is engaged in salt farming.

Salt pan worker in India
Glimpse into the life of 56 year old Jena Ben- a salt worker in the Rann of kutch salt pan

She along with her family including four grandchildren had moved into this salt pan in October of last year.

She says that they moved when the water started to recede and the desert re-appeared. They built a shack around this area to live in. This shack was her home for seven months starting October. They also started digging wells at the same time to pump out saline water.

Salt pans of Gujarat India