Thursday, 9 January 2020

India' very first 142 year old mechanized tile company in Kozhikode, Kerala closed for good

Closure of clay-tiles factory, Kozhikode, Kerala thehindu.com
Banned clay mining led to closure of tiles factory, Kozhicode, kerala thehindu.com
 Among the roof-tile companies on the coastal Malabar, the Calicut Tile Company, a pioneer of clay tile manufacturers in India  is the first  mechanized  clay tile company at Feroke near the historical seaport  of Kozhikode (Calicut), Kerala in  SW India.  The sad news is this company that was  started way back in the year 1878 was closed down for good in the last week of December, 2019.  Tagged as the ‘First among the best of tile companies,’ it had made a name and formed an indelible niche in the area of clay tiles industries in India. No doubt the company was run by daring visionaries who were responsible for the  terracotta revolution in this region, and  it  imparted geographical significance to Feroke, which later was referred to as the 'cradle of clay tile industry'.
 
The reason for their sustained name among the roof-tile industries is the company never had compromised on the quality of tiles  by strictly adhering  to all those relevant  standard quality procedures  ever since its very first day of production 142 years  ago. At that point of time India was under the British Crown rule. In the aftermath of its closure,  193  dedicated employees lost the job and many of them with lots of experience, as many as  37 years, are left in the lurch and they need to look else where for income to get the family going.


The management took a decision suddenly without giving them prior warning though the factory had enough clay to run the factory for a couple of months says the labor union. In this state, the communist party has a hold and  the labor unions protested  against this closureand; it was of no avail. The company said they did make an announcement in this regard recently and the company's efforts to revive the situation met with failure.
The closure of this pioneering factory may not be counted as an isolated  case among the  tile factories in this district. As many as 14 factories in this region were closed down earlier  for some reasons. The new mining regulations imposed by the central and State governments and poor availability of quality clay in other areas   are said to be the main reasons. Besides, the tiles companies had been facing acute competition  due to flooding of Chines  tiles on the market imported at a meager duty of just 5%.  In the Kochi port, in the last two years or so, the import of Chinese tiles spiked and they had an edge over the quality Indian tiles. The other problem was the recent  change of design  of architectural styles of roof top tiles. In addition,  there has been an increasing  use of various attractive colored metal roofing sheets being used  in this part of the state where it rains a lot during the SW monsoon, beginning in June on the west coastal areas

This historical clay tile company ruled the roost for a pretty long time in this region and its brand called Queen Brand  was a classy one  and famous. The superior quality terracotta tiles  were exported to as far as
the Bahrain, UK and Qatar markets, besides wide spread domestic market. The expertise they gained through a legacy of more than 120 years of experience was reason behind their success.  Their innovative products were trendsetter in their own way.  The terracotta tiles appear in a range of models applicable to flooring, roofing and  ceilings. They also made  ventilator bricks and building blocks.  Quite appealing to your eyes and  heart the tile products, company says, will  promise you a world of endless imagination and vision.

The State government had earlier promised  that it would reconsider an alternative area for clay mining once  a satellite survey  was taken in Feroke and surrounding areas to demarcate a suitable clay mining area and permit mining. Despite   three rounds of discussions with the Chief Minister and officials in the Revenue department t over a few months, no decision was taken  to conduct a satellite survey. This resulted in the closure of many units in this area. Alternative source of clay from neighboring states is a costly affair  and the cost overruns will be way high.
 The Calicut brand of roof tiles was most popular  for house construction  for more than a century and the tile factories  are located on  the banks of the Chaliyar river in Feroke.  Now, all are shut down and chances of resurgence are bleak.
 The company is optimistic that they will resume the production of traditional clay styles once the bottle necks are sorted out. But, the present scenario  is not in favor of a reasonable solution. This view was expressed by other companies as well..
https://www.indiamart.com/the-calicut-tile/aboutus.html
 https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/feroke-tile-industry-in-crisis/article17370874.ece