A delegation of ceramic unit owners of Morbi met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in New Delhi,even as other agitating owners sat on dharna in Morbi on Thursday to press for their demand of cheaper gas and lower taxes to end the indefinite shutdown of the industry for the last three weeks.
Chunilal Patel,secretary of Morbi-Dhuva Glaze Tiles Association (MDGTA),the largest association of ceramic kiln owners in Morbi,and Trayambak Patel,another member of ceramic association,met the Prime Minister at his official residence in the morning. The delegation was led by AICC general secretary and Gujarat in-charge Gurudas Kamat and included Gujarat Congress chief Arjun Modhwadia,Union Minister for Mines Dinsha Patel,former GPCC president Siddharth Patel,Shaktisinh Gohil and Congress MP from Rajkot Kunvarji Bavalia.
We had around 45-minute long meeting with the Prime Minister and he has assured us of looking into all our issues. He said that ceramic exports should get at least 10 per cent duty drawback instead of the present three per cent. He also agreed to look into our demand of allowing to operate coal gasifier plants in the interim while the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) clarifies its guidelines in the matter, Chunilal Patel said after meeting the PM.
He further said that the PM also assured them of doing the needful with respect to their demand of charging compound excise levy instead of the present rate of 12.36 per cent excise duty and discouraging ceramic imports from China by re-imposing 150 per cent anti-dumping duty. The Central government had abolished the anti-dumping duty around six months ago,but the industry is demanding its re-imposition to keep domestic products competitive.
The delegation had also met with Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi and Praveen Mahajan,chairperson of Central Board of Excise and Customs,on Wednesday.
Brijesh Merja,president of Rajkot district Congress,who was also present at the meeting,said that the PM assured the delegation to look into suggestion of Gas Authority of India Limited (GAIL) taking interest in supplying PNG to ceramic units in Morbi.
Meanwhile,22 unit owners sat on day-long dharna at their camp on Sanala road in Morbi town to press for their demand of reducing VAT and PNG prices. The state government has said that it cannot meet these two demands immediately. But we shall continue our shutdown and further intensify our agitation till our demands are met, Tulsi Patel,spokesperson for the unified associations,said.