Special Correspondent

Shortage of clay hampering operations

Call to check entry of multinational companies

The industry employs 2,000 people directly

KANNUR: The Kannur District Tile Industries and Labour Protection Committee, an action committee comprising representatives of tile manufacturers and trade unions, has urged the State and Central governments to intervene to save the traditional tile and brick making industries.

Samithi leaders Devadas Aaron (Baliapattam Tile Works) and N. Unnikrishnan (Pappinissery Industrial Co-operative Tile Society) stated here that nearly a dozen tile manufacturing industries in the district that employed 2,000 people directly and nearly 10,000 people indirectly, mostly women, were facing various problems, including shortage of clay.

Clay-mining from own lands of the industries was facing resistance from local people and environmental activists.

They said at a press conference here that the shortage of clay had led to cut back in production. Most of these companies were forced to announce layoff, they said adding that the crisis would lead to their total closure unless the authorities took the initiative to ensure uninterrupted supply of clay.

Samithi members P. Ramachandran (CITU); K. Surendran (INTUC); and Thavam Balakrishnan (AITUC) were also present at the press meet.

Survey sought

Samithi leaders demanded that the clay-rich areas in Kannur and Kasaragod should be surveyed by the Mining and Geology Department and sanctioned for the tile industries. Such a survey was conducted in Thrissur and similar surveys were proposed to be held in Kollam, Malappuram and Kozhikode districts, they said.

Kolakkattuvayal, Vayakkara, Koyipra, Kokkottuvayal, Kaithapram, Vellavu, Menachool, Kanhirangad, Mullakkodi, Chengalayi, Kurumathur, Keecheri and Madikkai were the areas supposed to have rich clay resource, they added.

They demanded that kerosene supply, essential for tile industries, should be made available to the companies under the industrial quota system.

At present, the industries had to purchase kerosene from the open market at a higher cost, they said.

The samithi also wanted the authorities to check the entry of multinational companies into the sector. Austrian brick giant Wineberger had already set up a plant in Bangalore with capacity to produce two lakh tonnes of hollow blocks per annum, they said adding that the capacity of a typical plant in the country was 9,000 tonnes per annum.

They also demanded a State-level industrial relations committee for the tile industries.