Construction boom likely to sap ill-equipped brick industry

The expected construction boom because of Vibrant Gujarat investment commitments along with the Sabarmati riverfront and GIFT City projects...

Written by Express News Service | Ahmedabad | Published: February 1, 2009 12:22:51 am

The expected construction boom because of Vibrant Gujarat investment commitments along with the Sabarmati riverfront and GIFT City projects will spur the demand for bricks several times over in times to come. But the disarray in the brick industry raises doubts about its capacity to meet the high demand.

The industry is currently facing severe problems of supply of lignite,a critical input for producing quality bricks. Not only supply is erratic,but also the quality is not up to the mark,say brick manufacturers,who are already facing labour related issues.

Vijay Shah,prominent city-based estate developer,has said the demand for bricks would go up not just because of the riverfront and GIFT City projects,but also because of no let up in the government construction activity. The demand for bricks in these two major ventures,however,might not be as high as expected,because there would be lots of steel structures involved in them.

He said projects had of late slowed down due to lowered disposal of ready houses compared to what it had been in the hay-day of the construction activity. Admitting that the brick industry might not be able to keep pace with the demand because of its own

inherent problems,the construction business had other options for traditional bricks. For example,fly-ash bricks could substitute them,but its supply is limited.

Meanwhile,after the brick kiln workers in Sanand partly succeeded over the issue of raise in wages recently,workers in Adalaj (which has the largest number of kilns in the state) and Mehsana joined the movement,which Int Bhattha Mazdoor Union had launched as a statewide agitation.

The brick kiln workers union had launched the movement against the alleged exploitation with regard to payment of wages. According to them,the wage for 1,000 bricks,which a husband-wife duo or at times three labourers together take 16 to 18 hours to make,is Rs 122 for eight hours. For additional hours,the wage should technically double. But with the workers getting Rs 230 for 16 hours,the wages for eight hours add up to only Rs 50 approximately. Over and above the low wages,the workers in most parts of the state who opt for overtime have to fund the cost of lighting kerosene lamps as well.

40 UP workers released from Chiyada GIDC brick kiln

Forty workers belonging to Bodar village in Shahbar town of Uttar Pradesh were released from a brick kiln in the Chiyada GIDC on Saturday. According to Int Bhatta Majdoor Union,the workers were kept bonded in NBC Bricks owned by one Vishnu Mangal Das for the last four months. Rina Parmer,union member,said: “The employer claimed an outstanding debt of Rs 1.5 lakh from the workers. They were being paid at the rate of Rs 175 per 1,100 bricks against the prevalent market wage of Rs 300.” The workers contacted the Int Bhatta Majdoor Union and sought its help in getting them released. The union presented the group of workers to SDM V R Vyas at Dholka. “On our demand,the SDM directed the Mamlatdar of Bavla to accompany the workers to the brick kiln and get them released.”

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