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Breathing problems? Try salt mine tourism

You can always take human curiosity with a pinch of salt, writes M Rajendran.

india Updated: Nov 03, 2006 18:34 IST

You can always take human curiosity with a pinch of salt.

Public sector firm Hindustan Salts Ltd (HSL), ailing but spunky, is finding ways to rejuvenate itself and Salt mine tourism may help rejuvenate Hindustan Salts Ltd (HSL), a public sector undertaking that is on a revival mode, and is scouting for partners in tourism industry to generate revenue by promoting the Salt mines tourism. Sounds interesting? Read on.

Salt mine tourism is not a completely unusual thing. For instance, in Poland there is the popular Wieliczka Salt Mine, which is a major tourist attraction. Besides the sightseeing, these deep underground caves are known for their wonderful healing qualities. Speleotherapy, or underground medical treatment, is an alternative cure for asthma, used in many Eastern European countries like Poland and Slovakia.

Speleotherapy is essentially the treatment of respiratory diseases using the air found in underground caves. Such air is typically rich in natural salt microns and ions, which have been found quite effective in reducing asthma, allergies, and other breathing problems, in addition to soothing irritated skin and restoring ionic balance within the body.

The medical fraternity in India feels that there is no conclusive evidence to show in India or abroad that such a therapy has been successful. But since it has not yet been tested in India it would be an opportunity to explore it.

Dr Yatin Kukreja, research associate in Department of Neurology at Safdarjung Hospital said, "The only possible explanation for such a therapy could be that environment of salt mines are free from possible allergens causing the disease. Once the precipitating factors are removed the patient feels comfortable."

HSL has a rock salt mine at Dirang in Mandi in state of Himachal Pradesh. It has a capacity to generate 112 million tones of rock salt, which would lead to creation of more mines. It has prepared a proposal to generate revenues from these salt mines by leasing it out to the tourism sector.

Speaking to Hindustan Times, K Ponnusamy said, "Currently, we have one salt mine in Dirang in Himachal Pradesh, but more would be created depending on the response. It is a resource that we would like to be used for revenue generation. Similar to a few destinations in Europe where salt mines have been transformed as tourist destinations and also double up as medical resorts, we would soon invite requests for developing HSL mines on same lines."

Prof Tej Vir Singh, Centre for Tourism Research and Development (CTRD) at Lucknow says, "We have not heard of any salt mine tourism in India. If it is started, it will be a novelty. In few countries like Kirghiztan and others it has become popular after few medicinal values were discovered."


First Published: Nov 03, 2006 17:33 IST