Tile industry battles crisis with clay in short supply

On the wane: Tile factories at Feroke in Kozhikode. Nearly 1.5 lakh families depend on tile industry in the district.

On the wane: Tile factories at Feroke in Kozhikode. Nearly 1.5 lakh families depend on tile industry in the district.  

Troubled times feared as regular production affected at several units at Feroke

The acute shortage of clay and restrictions on its import from other States have hit regular production at small- and large-scale tile manufacturing units at Feroke in the district. A crisis looms large even as a study has been planned on the possibility of tapping the available clay resources without disturbing wetlands and paddy fields.

Leaders of Kerala Tile Industry Protection Committee, a State-level collective recently formed to prevent the industry from extinction, say the Wetland Conservation Act is being grossly misinterpreted by the authorities to choke the ailing industry and stop attempts to tap the available natural resource to boost the industry. Though there are no restrictions on mining clay from wetland areas provided it is done in accordance with conservation procedures, it is hardly tapped, they claim.

“Clay can be collected from wetland areas or paddy fields just by removing the top layer of the soil. After collecting clay, the top layer can be filled again, and the process will surely prepare the field better for cultivation with abundant water,” says P. Subrahmannian Nair, chairman of the collective. He points out that the Geology Department is yet to be convinced of the scope of reviving the industry and the need to support it in a scientific way. M.A. Abdurahman, convener of the collective, says a scientific study is yet to be done in the area by any department to address the crisis facing manufacturers in the sector. Nearly 1.5 lakh families solely depend on the industry, he reminds.

Meanwhile, owners of various tile manufacturing units in the area affirm that they are willing to follow all rules and regulations while tapping local clay resources. Each unit will deposit a security amount with the Geology Department before carrying out clay mining, and the department can return the money only if it finds that the units have properly conducted the mining process, they say.

Dharna on Wednesday

The members of the collective will stage a dharna in front of the Secretariat on November 29 to draw the attention of the State government to the matter. Representatives of all major tile units in the State will attend the dharna, which will be addressed by leaders of major trade unions. Memorandums too will be submitted to the government highlighting the plights of various local manufacturing units.

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Printable version | Mar 30, 2020 8:11:37 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/kozhikode/tile-industry-battles-crisis-with-clay-in-short-supply/article21012137.ece

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