Personal Finance

Tiles from dredged silt

V. Sajeev Kumar | Updated on August 06, 2011 Published on August 06, 2011

Dredged silt from the seabed of the Kochi Port channels is seen as a viable alternative to clay used in the manufacture of tiles and bricks.

In a bid to revive the tile industry in Kerala, a host of maritime organisations has come up with a viable solution. The industry had been in dire straits for quite a few years, for want of clay, its main raw material. Scientific investigations have revealed that the massive quantity of dredged silt from the seabed of the Kochi Port channels is a viable replacement for clay used in the manufacture of tiles, bricks and similar products.

The Port's Grab Dredger Nehru Shatabdi alone dredges and moves nearly 8,000 cubic metres of dredged silt . A unique partnership of the Kochi Port, Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI), Kochi-based Lots Shipping and the tile industries of Kerala, in association with a couple of technical entrepreneurs, are proceeding with the project, which may give a fresh lease of life to the ailing tile industry.


The IWAI has suitable terminals close to tile factories and brick kilns where the clay can be stored and delivered to the end-user. Lots Shipping is providing suitable barges to take the clay from the dredger to the terminals.

Since the ban on the mining of clay from paddy fields and lagoons due to environmental concerns in the State, the tile factories had been facing acute raw material shortage.

Some of them tried to bring clay from Tamil Nadu by trucks. However, this was not a viable alternative due to the high cost of transportation. This led to the imminent closure of many units, leading to significant job losses.

The Government was appraised of the matter and tried to come up with solutions to sustain the industry. The daily requirement of clay by the industry is approximately 5,000 cubic metres.

Technical entrepreneurs

The technical entrepreneurs, who mooted the project, included Mr Anil Kumar Thoppil of Greencott Marine Services Pvt.

The first consignment of 450 tonnes of clay was loaded onto Lots Shipping's barge MB Meenachil a few days ago and discharged at Edayar from the IWAI terminal.

Mr Renjit Nelluvelil, CEO, Lots Shipping, said that the project will go a long way in sustaining a traditional industry such as tile manufacture, and the employment potential it offers.

A tiled roof is far superior to a concrete roof both aesthetically and economically.

Moreover, alternative use of dredged silt, which is presently being dumped in the sea, stops any further degradation of lakes and paddy fields due to illicit mining of clay.

It also improves the dredging efficiency of the dredger, as the time and fuel spent in travelling to the ‘spoil ground' at sea is eliminated.

This project will be a success if proper support is received from various agencies, for making the last stretch on NW-3 to the Kodungaloor terminal navigable, so that the ‘last mile' by trucks to the end-user is further shortened, he said.

The tile and brick industry is clustered in and around Thrissur district, which is closer to the IWAI Kodungaloor Terminal.

Political support and possible subsidy are also needed for the long-term success of the project, he added.

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