Floods in the usually drought-prone Barmer were as unexpected in their arrival as their destructive reach - the beauty industry is among the worst hit. For another year from now, the beauty and cosmetic industry of the country will be deprived of its basic ingredient, the Multani mitti, as Barmer is the only place in the world to produce lime clay besides Multan in Pakistan from where it derives its name.
Barmer has 22 mines in villages like Kapoordi, Rohili, Bothiya and Bhadkha, all of which were flooded. Those engaged in the mining and processing of this clay say it will be a while before operations can resume. Hundreds have now become unemployed.
Among those affected are multinational and national cosmetic companies that purchase this clay—the basic ingredient for their face packs, and mint money.
The companies buy the clay at a paltry Rs 4 per kg and sell it for much more, after some simple processing and packaging. At a rough estimate, these companies charge Rs 100 for 200-300 grams. Now they will have to import the clay from Pakistan.
According to ML Sankhla, a wholesale Multani mitti dealer, the Barmer region suffered a loss of at least Rs 10 crore due to the flooding of the mines, which produce about 25,000 tonnes of lime clay.
Dr Kiran Singh, a doctor in Jodhpur, says that lime clay is a safe cosmetic. It is used in the treatment of pimples, skin patches, sunburn and removal of blackheads. It is also believed to have medicinal qualities and is used by women in western Rajasthan before and after pregnancy.
So, next time you go for a treatment to your local beauty parlour, be prepared for a hike in charges.