A Journey along the coasts of Vedaranyam | Milaap

A Journey along the coasts of Vedaranyam

      Vedaranyam, a fertile land that belongs to the Cauvery delta region, was one of the beautiful places that I have ever witnessed during the period of my fellowship. It receives its name from the Vedaranyeswarar temple and legend says it’s the place where “Vedas”, Hinduism’s oldest scripture originated.

 Salt-farming (Pic Courtesy: CBC news, Katy Daigle · The Associated Press)

    This fertile land situated in Coromandel Coast is an amalgam of fecund swamps and agricultural farmlands. Since the district has a long coastline spreading over kilometers fishing, salt manufacturing and prawn cultivation becomes the major economic activity overshadowing agriculture. Salt manufacturing with its salt-pans or crystallizes spreads over 11,000 acres giving a majestic view. One could see heaps of salt stored in corners and salt-pans spreading like a white mantle. This occupation makes a profit by producing 3.5 Lakh tonnes of salt every year. Not only they add to the state’s economy but also provide occupation to 20,000 people in that area.
   All along the coast one could see hundreds of salt miners relentlessly working under the sun, reaping salt that are to be exported to different states or even countries. This was one of the amusing and different sights that I have witnessed during my stay there. These workers are selected on basis of contract and on conversation with one of the workers I came to know that if they fail to come for work one day they will be fired the next day. The plight of these workers and their working environment are hazardous, even after evolution of technologies their life remains harsh.Other major occupation that is overcasting the salt industry is prawn cultivation. Due to the presence of marine and semi-marine water types it holds good for the growth of prawn. It is one of the profitable businesses in the areas of Vedaranyam which needs only a little investment.

 Kattaboman standing along his prawn-cultivation ponds
       Fondly called KK, Kattaboman and his friends started investing in prawn cultivation to make a living. They bought juvenile prawns for a lesser price from Chennai and set up a pond to start the cultivation. These prawns grow well in fresh waters where the climate is warm and in a soil that retain water. They need enough supply of oxygen and every pond over here has aerators that run and stimulate oxygen. He feeds processed prawn foods made out of dry fish, algae etc.

Trying to catch a hatch-ling 
     Feeding the hatch-lings is a major task as one should feed it for six times a day in particular timings. If the timing is missed one could see the whole bunch of hatch-lings jumping over the pond in certain motions. He says that compared to salt manufacturing, this business needs less of physical activity and gives high level of profit. Other than these two major occupations Vedaranyam’s soil is rich enough to grow tobacco, jute, jasmine, tamarind, mango etc. On all of my field visits, this beautiful place called Vedaranyam tops the list with rich fertile soil and multiplicity of occupations.