The Sri Lankan Government has begun work to restore the Elephant Pass saltern that was destroyed by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in the 1980s. Once operational, the saltern could help Sri Lanka become self-sufficient in its salt requirement while generating about 2,000 job opportunities for youth living in the North.
“Elephant Pass salterns had been deserted for nearly 30 years due to LTTE activities,” Commander of the Security Headquarters in Kilinochchi Maj. Gen. Sudantha Ranasinghe said. “We believe that the first phase of this will be completed in a month. This also will enhance the economic development of the country.”
Currently, Sri Lanka’s estimated annual salt requirement is approximately 195,000 metric tons of which about 40 percent is imported, spending about Rs. 380 million in foreign exchange. The pre-feasibility studies indicate that the saltern will be able to produce 70,000 to 80,000 metric tons of salt, eliminating the need for Sri Lanka to import salt.
The saltern spans an area of 1,946 acres from north to south in the Jaffna Peninsula in Northern Sri Lanka. The current restoration activities, of activating the water management system, are being carried out by the Sri Lanka Army on the initiative of the Ministry of Traditional Industries and Small Enterprise Development. The saltern was handed over to the Ministry with the de-mining clearance certificate in 2011.
The de-mining of the saltern was completed by the Delvon Assistance for Social Harmony (DASH), a Sri Lankan non-profit demining non-governmental organisation, with assistance from the Australian Government.