Puttalam’s salt plains

April 14, 2014 at 10:18 am

According to wikipedia, the name “Puttalam” may be a modification of the Tamil word Uppuththalam: Uppu means salt, and Thalam means salt production zone. There are salt plains both north and south of the town. The northern plains are right next to an unusual sight in Sri Lanka: 25 wind turbines, run by an Indian firm. 

Salt production is a good money earner according to a local I spoke to. However, he also added that most of the plains were all owned by a handful of businessmen, many of whom got their hands on the land in shifty ways, taking advantage of the confusion created by the civil war.

 Salt plains, Puttalam

Workers rake the salt from a plain into small mounds.

Salt plains, Puttalam

The salt is then stored in wooden shelters. This particular one was falling apart.

salt plains

Both men and women work the plains, usually in the morning and late afternoon. However, they occasionally will work till the late morning by which time temperatures are at the highest. 

Housing near the salt plains, Puttalam

There is quite a lot of recently-built housing around the salt plains, mostly unpainted cement-brick houses.