By Suresh Soni
Rajkot, Jan.18 : Steep price rise of lignite and coal that is used as fuel in Gujarat's roof tile industry has badly affected the business in Morbi city. Kiln owners are perturbed over price hike and heavy taxes in the State.
Around 100 tile kilns have closed down at Morbi city, famous for ceramic products and roof tile, due to heavy losses and there are many more all set to follow suit.
Many of the kiln owners believe that the government's intervention can save them with the supply of natural gas which the ceramic potteries are availing.
According to Tile factory owners, the cost of coal was rupees 690 for twenty kilogram which has risen to rupees 1,250 for the same quantity. The additional taxes levied on these products have made their survival too difficult to survive.
"We had over 275 factories but around 100 of them have closed down due to the hike in cost price. Coal prices have risen and also the cost of production has become high because of this. Lignite prices have risen a lot in the past four years which has made it almost impossible for us to stay in the industry," said Ratilal Patel, President, Morbi Roof Tiles Manufacturers Association
Morbi's climatic environ is very favourable for the tile industry, the products of which are in much demand in the rural areas.
"Lignite (coal) rates have risen twice in a year's time and we have protested against this. But the Government has not done anything about it. The employment of the rural people has been affected and this can lead to serious crisis," said by Jayantibhai Patel, a roof tile factory owner.
There was a time when Morbi city had boasted of over 300 factories here which used to provide 70 percent of the nation's demand for roof tiles.
The roof tile factory owners want the State government to save the industry by providing natural gas as the fuel to fire kilns similar to what the ceramic units are getting. If the help is not accorded at the earliest, their industry is likely to face closure within six months from now.
"The season is on for our sales but because of the fluctuating rates, our industry does not gain any profit .The GMDC and the Government agencies have promised a lot but results are not to be seen and we do not see any positive response from them," said Mansukhbhai Prajapati, designer of roof tiles.