SALT ADMINISTRATION (PAST AND PRESENT)
Salt, since beginning to civilizations, inter-alia had become an article of commerce. It was considered to be one of the sources of Revenue by the native Governments in various forms, such as excise duties, transit tax etc. There was generally no uniformity in the mater of administrative control for the collection of salt revenue. Different provinces and the erstwhile Indian States had their own system of administration. As per document available the salt department has been in existence prior to 1802 AD.
Keeping in view the objective to collect considerable revenue from salt, Government of India in the year 1856 appointed Mr. Plowdon, Commissioner to enquire into the practicability of carrying into effect any system under which the manufacture and sale of salt in India could be made absolutely free and subject only to such excise or other duties as may now from time to time be levied upon such salt so manufactured. Mr. Plowdon in his report inter-alia recommended for gradual extension of the excise system throughout the saliniferous area and reduction of duty. The Government of India had accepted the recommendations of the Commissioner and accordingly salt manufacturing activities were brought under licencing system by an Act containing stringent panel action in the event of non observance of the conditions laid down in the licence.
The collection of salt revenue was originally vested in the Collectors of Districts whose controlling authority was Commissioner of Salt Revenue; subsequently a separate Department under a Salt Commissioner on the recommendation of a commission appointed by the Government of India in 1876
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was created. Similar procedure was adopted in Bombay and Calcutta Presidency. The administration of the Salt Department in the Bombay Presidency was transferred to the Collectors of Salt Revenue a post created under Bombay Salt Act, 1873. As regards administrative machinery in Bengal, the control of the importation and issue of foreign salt was in the hands of the Collector of Customs, Calcutta working under the Central Board Revenue. The Northern India salt revenue Department was administered by the Commissioner Northern India salt revenue. Salt Act were modified during 1880ís and 1890. Some functions of Salt Commissioner particularly relating to Abkain/Narcotic was transferred to the provincial Government with effect from 1.4.1923 under Government of India Act, 1919.
Since after passing of the Government of India Act, 1935, bifurcating responsibilities and duties of Central Government and State Governmentís salt continued to be in the central list. Government of India took over Central Excise (on matches, sugar etc.) and decided in Januray,1938 to entrust the collection of Excise to the Salt Department. Accordingly the administration of Central Excise in Northern India was transferred to the charge of Commissioner, Northern Salt Revenue which was subsequently in the year 1939-40 splited into two independent units of administration viz. Central Excise and Salt, North-Western India, and Central Excise and Salt, North-Eastern India , each under the administrative control of a Collector. The salt administration in Bengal was taken over from the Bengal Government by Central Excise and Salt, Northern India Department with effect from 1st April,1939 and this arrangement continued till December,1939 and subsequently
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came under the administration of Central Excise and Salt Northern Eastern India under administrative control of a Collector. The administration of Central Excise, Bombay was transferred to the Collector of salt revenue Bombay with effect from 1st April,1938.
The administration of the Madras Salt Revenue Department continued in combination with that of the Madras Land Customs and Ports Departments. With effect from 1st April, 1938, the Government of India transferred the administration of Central Excise Revenue in the Madras Presidency from the Government of Madras to the Collector of Salt Revenue, Madras.
In the year 1944, The Central Excises and Salt Act was enacted on 24th February,1944 consolidating and amending the laws relating to central duties of Excise and salt having special provisions relating to salt repealing all Acts relating to production/transport of salt namely Bombay Salt Act, 1890, Madras Salt Act, 1884 and Indian Salt Act, 1882. Indian salt duties Act, 1908 and transport of Salt Act 1879, besides other Acts relating to other essential commodities. The Salt Department was a part of the Central Board of Revenue under the Ministry of Finance.
Farther of Nation Late Mahatama Gandi selected saltí for his campaign of civil Disobedience for freedom against British Imperialism during 1930 which ultimately led to freedom of our country in 1947. Salt duty was abolished with effect from 1.4.1947. The Salt Department was transferred
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from Ministry of Finance to the Ministry of Industry & Supply with effect from 1.11.1947 which was subsequently placed under the Ministry of Works, Production and Supply with effect from 1.2.1951. Again due to further re-organisation of the Ministry, the administration of salt organization was transferred and placed Incharge of Ministry of Production with effect from 13th May,1952 and subsequently in the year 1957, it was placed under the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Department of Industrial Development. The designation the post of Salt Controller, Deputy Salt Controller and Assistant Salt Controller was changed to the Salt Commissioner, Deputy Salt Commissioner and Assistant Salt Commissioner, respectively from May,1952. India salt services was constituted during 1954 to man salt organization.
In the constitution of India, Salt is Central subject and appears as item No. 58 of the Union list of the 7th Schedule, which reads : (a) Manufacture, Supply and distribution of salt by Union agencies : and (b) Regulation and control of manufacture, supply and distribution of salt by other agencies. The Central Government is responsible for controlling all aspects of the Salt Industry through Salt Organisation.
After abolition of duty on salt, a question arose how to meet expenses for maintaining salt department. Government of India imposed a cess on salt in the nature of excise duty with effect from 1.4.1947 which was subsequently regularized by enacting salt cess Act, 1953. Under this Act, the proceeds of the cess reduced
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by the cost of collection as determined by the Central Government would be utilized on meeting expenditure incurred in connection with the salt organization maintained by the Central Government, besides other objects in connection with the development of salt industry in regard to quantity and quality welfare of labour, establishment and maintenance of model farms, salt research stations, etc. The said Act was amended in the year 1961 with a view to reduce the levy of cess payable by the Salt Works in public Sector at par with Private Sector. Salt Cess Rules 1964 provides for granting concession to different categories of salt manufacturers and rules for collection of cess, statistics etc.
Government of India have constituted various committees such as Salt Expert Committees 1948, Estimates Committees 1950, Departmental Committees 1951, Manu Bhai Shah Committee (1958) to look into various aspects of the industry. These committee recommended various measures for improving functioning of the salt organization and constitution of boards to advise Government on the utilization of salt cess etc. The functioning of the department was further streamlined in the light of the recommendation of the High Level Salt Enquiry Committee 1980.
Further, in the year 1996 the Government of India in the course of liberalization and simplification procedure had decided to de-licence the salt industries, salt cess Rules were amended introducing Self Removal procedure instead of consignment wise permit for payment of cess and removal of salt during
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2001. As of now, the main function of the salt organizations may broadly be classified as here under :
I. Leasing of Central Government land for salt manufacture ;
II. Planning of production targets ;
III. Arranging equitable distribution and monitoring the quality and price ;
IV. Promotion of technological development and training of personnel ;
V. Maintenance of standards and improvement in quality of salt ;
VI. Nodal Agency for monitoring production, distribution and quality control of
iodised salt ;
VII. Management of Departmental lands ;
VIII. Planning, formulating and monitoring execution of development and labour
welfare schemes ;
IX. Production of exports and pre-shipment inspection ;
X. Collection of Salt Cess, Assignment Fee, Ground Rent and other dues ;
XI. Rehabilitation of salt works affected by natural calamities.