July 03, Colombo: Sri Lanka Army making its contribution to another development project in the country began the work to reactivate the abandoned Elephant Pass saltern in Northern Province.
The Army at the request of the Ministry of Traditional Industries and Small Enterprise Development began the extraction of clogged and stagnant water out of the abandoned saltern for proposed reactivation of its production process.
Ministry of Traditional Industries and Small Enterprise with the approval of the Ministry of Defence and Urban Development, has sought the assistance of Sri Lanka Army for preliminary extraction of stagnant water from the saltern that has remained abandoned since 1980s after LTTE terrorism, escalated in the Jaffna region.
The Army commenced the work following a MoU signed in late June with the Ministry for this specific purpose.
The Security Force Headquarters - Kilinochchi (SFHQ-KLN), commanded by Major General Sudantha Ranasinghe, in response to the directions of the Commander of the Army, Lieutenant General Daya Ratnayake, has undertaken the responsibility for extraction of stagnant water and re-filling the saltern with fresh sea water.
The army expects to complete the water extraction and re-filling within a month and hand over the saltern to the Ministry. The Ministry will then start the production arrangements at the saltern.
The 1946-acre Elephant Pass saltern, lying to the north and south of Kurunchaitivu, had produced 60,000 - 80,000 metric tons of salt per year when it was operational before the LTTE terrorists destroyed the saltern in mid 1980s as violence escalated.
The proposed re-activation of the Elephant Pass saltern is expected to generate 2000 employment opportunities for the local youths in the northern region.
The resumption of productions at the saltern will save the government a huge sum of foreign exchange since Sri Lanka is importing salt although it is an island surrounded by the Indian Ocean.
The government also plans to restart the production at the nearby Paranthan Chemical Factory which was also destroyed by the LTTE terrorists.