Hit by the global economic turmoil, over 100 Roofing Tile manufacturing units in and around Morbi are now facing a shortage of quality fuel, which is supplied by the state government for running the factories. Rajkot Manufacturers claim that they are getting lignite of deprived quality at much elevated rates from government.
Following a meeting organized by the Morbi Roof Tiles Association, all the units have now decided to down their shutters from 1st of March, if their demand for good quality lignite is not attended by the state government. The strike will severely affect production and the roofing tiles industry on large.
The roof tiles industry in Morbi employs over 10,000 workers in manufacturing process, and accounts for 70 per cent of the country’s total production.
Most of the workers involved in the industry are locals.
J J Patel, the president of the Roof Tiles Manufactures Association, said: “The lignite provided to us from the new mines in Bhavnagar has over 40 per cent moisture content, which makes it difficult for the kilns to reach the required temperature of 1,100 degree centigrade.”
He also admitted “We are paying higher rates for inferior quality fuel, which doubles up our production costs. The industry cannot afford to function at these production rates during a slowdown when the demand has already decreased.”
The manufacturers say they are also concerned for the workers, but are not able to run the operations further under the prevailing economic downturn.
Each of the 107 units in the area require 60 trucks of the fuel — each weighing 10 to 17 tonnes, per day. Around 10,000 roofing tiles are produced by each unit in Morbi per day.
Veljibhai Patel, an owner of a tile manufacturing unit said: “The orders for lignite have already been placed till this month-end. So we have decided to continue till then.”
Until last year, roof tiles units, like many other industries, were supplied with high quality lignite from the Pandhro mines, which is owned by the Gujarat Mineral Development Corporation (GMDC).
Now, Pandhro site is reserved for power generation, and lignite is supplied to industries from other less known sites like Mata No Madh in Kutch, and Rajpardi near Surat. Bhavnagar, from where Morbi is supplied lignite, is a relatively new site.
Patel added: “The lignite supplied from Mata No Madh has more dust component, while that from Bhavnagar has more moisture. Both are of inferior quality, but still we are ready to settle for the material from Mata No Madh.”
In addition to the quality consciousness, the manufacturers are also concerned about the pricy lignite they receive from Bhavnagar.
The lignite from Bhavnagar costs Rs 2,600 per truck, while the one supplied from Mato No Madh and Pandhro costs Rs 2400 to 2500 per truck.