1.1 Demand and Supply :
Brick Industry is ancillary to the
construction industry. Therefore, the existence and
future of brick industry is intimately connected with
the growth of the construction industry.
Considering India as a whole, about
100 bricks are consumed per year per person ( an estimated
100 billion bricks consumed by a present population
of about 990 million); i.e. her present Consumption
Factor (CF) is 100. This varies with the development
stage of a region, from 125 to 150 for a fast developing
area, to over 200 for megacities.
As per the 1991 Census, the population
of Maharashtra was 78.75 million. The decennial population
growth for the country was 23.50 per cent ( or 2.15
per cent per year) for the decade 1981-1991. Applying
the same growth rate for the period 1991-1998, Maharashtra's
present population may be estimated at about 92 million.
Multiplying this by a CF of 125, on a very conservative
basis, the present consumption of bricks in Maharashtra
works out to 11.50 billion bricks per year.
It is an accepted fact in the construction
industry that supply of bricks always matches their
demand. Going by this observation, the present production
of bricks in Maharashtra should at least be 11.50
billion nos. per year. Majority of burnt clay brick
manufacturers in Maharashtra employ hand-moulding,
sun-drying and clamp-burning methods and work for
6 to 7 months of a year only, from November to May.
Assuming that the average production of these Brick
Fields is about 10 lakhs bricks per season per unit,
there are about 11,500 units in the State. They are
mostly clustered in the vicinity of either developed
markets ( like Mumbai, Pune, Nagpur, Nashik, , Thane,
Solapur, Aurangabad, Kolhapur, Sangli, Bhiwandi, Malegaon,
Dhule, etc. ) or around abundant raw material sources.
The sizes of open clamps vary between 25,000 nos.
and 10,00,000 nos.
The Moving Chimney Kiln culture in
Maharashtra is only present in Bhiwandi / Ambarnath
area ( District Thane ), Raigad, Nandurbar, Jalgaon,
Nagpur and Chandrapur Districts in Maharashtra. The
total number of these kilns may be estimated at about
100. Their capacities vary between 10,000 to 50,000
bricks per day, the average being 20,000 bricks per
day. The 'mistries' 'setters' and 'firemen' normally
come from Gujarat, Punjab or Western U.P. There is
only one High Draught Kiln in operation in the State
at Murud ( District Latur ) of 30,000 bricks per day
capacity. There are no Fixed Chimney Kilns in existence
1.2 Manufacturing Process :
Surface soil from barren lands /
rice fields and alluvial clay ( called 'Poyta' in
Marathi ) from banks / beds of rivers, ponds and percolation
tanks are used as raw materials for bricks. If soil
/ clay is procured from privately owned lands, in
addition to the usual Royalty and Cess, payment to
landlords varies between Rs. 50.00 and Rs. 150.00
per 200 cft truck load. The Government of Maharashtra
has recently exempted entrepreneurs belonging to Kumhar
Caste from payment of Royalty and Cess.
A family of two to four persons -
husband, wife and one or two children - can mould
upto 1,500 nos. 9" x 4" x 3" size bricks
and 750 nos. 9" x 6" x 4" size bricks
per day including raw-mix preparation, shaping and
setting operations. Coal powder / ash, chopped bagasse
/ husk and grog ( burnt powdery material from brick
kilns ) is mixed with clay in the desired proportion
to impart the right plasticity and burnability to
the raw-mix. For this work, contract labour is paid
Rs. 80.00 to Rs. 135 .00 per 1,100 nos. 9" x
4" x 3" size bricks, and double the amount
for 9" x 6" x 4" size bricks. During
monsoon, moulders are ' booked ' for the oncoming
season by paying Rs. 5,000 to Rs. 15,000 as advance
per family. Moulders normally come from draught-prone
areas in Jalgaon and Beed Districts in Maharashtra
and Chhattisgarh ( M.P.), Bijapur ( Karnataka ), etc.
Districts adjoining Maharashtra.
1.3 Fuel and Brick Quality :
'B' or 'C' Grade Steam Coal from
WCL's Coal Mines in Chandrapur / Yavatmal Districts
is primarily used as fuel in firing open clamps. Its
present landed cost varies in the range of Rs. 1,200.00
at Nagpur and Rs. 2,600.00 at Pune. Undersize material
in grit or powder form rejected by Thermal Power Stations
is also used, its destination price varying between
Rs. 1,000.00 to Rs. 1,800.00. Coal ash ( i.e. partially
burnt coal from grate-type boilers, railway engines,
etc. ) is used as a supplementary fuel. After screening
the coal ash, the fines are mixed with clay and the
coarser part is used as fuel for firing the clamp
from its sides. The proportion of coal powder / ash
mixed with clay may vary between 75 and 120 kg per
1,000 dry green bricks, while that of steam coal used
in the clamp may vary between 100 and 150 kg per 1,000
bricks. Steam coal, refinery / oil industry waste,
firewood, rice husk, etc. are used as fuels in Moving
Although IS : 1077-1992 recommends
use of 'Modular' bricks ( of 7.5" x 3.5"
x 3.5") or 'Non-Modular' bricks ( of 9"
x 4.25" x 2.75"), none of the manufacturers
in Maharashtra adopts this size. 9" x 4"
x3" size bricks are called 'full size' bricks.
Length of an individual hand-made brick varies between
8.5" and 9", width 3.5" and 4"
and height 2.5" and 3". These smaller bricks
are called 'cut size' ones. 9" x 6" x 4"
bricks, which are called 'double bricks', are of recent
origin and are gaining popularity in urban markets
day by day. Bricks fired in open clamps and moving
chimney kilns are only classified in two categories
- saleable and rejects ( i.e. underburnt or overburnt
). Breakages and rejections during clamp-firing are
upto 20 per cent.
Due to the peculiar quality of soil
in Maharashtra, which needs addition of higher proportion
of coal powder / ash / grog to reduce its plasticity
and improve burnability, bricks in Maharashtra are
generally more porous and low in strength (usually
less than 35 kg / cm²), as compared to the ones
in the North and North-East India.
1.4 Selling Prices :
Bricks of higher heights fetch higher
prices. The present 'destination' rates of 'cut size'
bricks in Maharashtra vary in the rage of Rs.800.00
and Rs.1,800.00 per 1,000 nos. 'Double bricks' are
sold within a range of Rs. 2,200.00 to Rs. 3,400.00
per 1,000 nos. Bricks are viably sold within an average
'marketable radius' of about 100 kilometers from the
point of their manufacture. A 10 tonne truck normally
accommodates 2,000 'double bricks', or 3,000 'full
size' or 4,000 to 5,000 'cut size' bricks. The present
Sales Tax in the State is 8 per cent.
2.0 Burning Problems of the Industry :
2.1 Total Dependence on Skilled
This is the most serious ailment
of the industry needing urgent attention. In the absence
of an affordable and/or proven alternative, brick
manufacturers have to totally depend upon skilled
moulders for their livelihood. In addition to paying
an advance of upto Rs. 15,000.00 per moulder family,
they have to be provided with shelter, firewood, etc.
and looked after well. The advance is normally never
recovered at the end of a season. To improve brick
quality, if more stress is laid on clay preparation,
the moulders get less time to mould bricks and the
production suffers heavily. If moulding is stressed,
clay preparation is neglected, resulting in more breakages.
Absenteeism, sickness, physical disability, etc. aggravate
the situation further. The lure of more money from
nearby brick field owners makes many a moulders forget
the existing contract ( including advance ) and accept
2.2 Clay Shortage and Rising Fuel
Suitability of clay and other additives
is solely decided by trial and error method and no
laboratory testing is ever employed by Brick Field
owners. Black cotton ( i.e. montmorillonite) and similar
plastic soils are not considered suitable for brickmaking.
Due to their stickiness, release of wet bricks from
moulds becomes very difficult and pronounced drying
shrinkage results in cracking and breakages.
Lime nodules are another poison to
brickmaking. Lime ( i.e. limestone ) dissociates into
quicklime ( CaO) and carbon-dioxide ( CO2) gas on
firing. During cooling, fired bricks absorb moisture
from atmosphere which reacts with quicklime to form
hydrated lime (Ca(OH)2 ). The specific gravity of
hydrated lime being much less than quicklime, the
lime particles expand suddenly giving rise to disintegration
or explosion of fired bricks. This experience has
made brick manufacturers extra cautious about choice
of raw materials. Only sedimentary ( or alluvial )
clay or surface soil of reddish, yellowish or greyish
colour is selected for brickmaking. Clay sources near
big cities are quickly depleted and at times clay
has to be brought in from as far as 25 to 30 kilometres
distance by paying upto Rs. 900.00 per truck load.
This increases the raw material cost substantially.
Fuel cost is normally 40 to 60 %
of the cost of production. At places far away from
coal mines, the incidence of transportation cost is
almost twice that of the material being transported,
which is an absurd situation ! Where firewood is traditionally
used as fuel for burning bricks, its cost is increasing
by leaps and bounds every year, rendering it uneconomical.
Although costs of raw material and
fuel are going up day by day, consumers are reluctant
to pay increased prices in the same proportion, since
the quality of bricks is not improving at all. This
is adversely affecting the profitability of the brick
2.3 Opposition from Environmentalists
and Social Workers :
It is often said that nature takes
about 70 years to make an inch of top soil. Use of
this precious surface soil for brickmaking, though
considered desirable by both sellers and buyers of
the material, destroys it permanently. This adversely
affects the acrage of cultivable land, the flora and
fauna supported by it and the environment around.
Under Minor Minerals Act, Government charges royalty
to brick manufacturers at the rate of Rs. 14.00 to
Rs. 50.00 per 100 cft of clay. This is expected to
take care of cost of reclamation of the affected land.
However, in practice, the reclamation cost is tens
of thousands of times more than the royalty being
levied. Use of firewood for brick burning, which leads
to large scale tree felling, and the air pollution
created by the industry in the form of dust, smoke
and odour, also attract stiff opposition from environmentalists.
Incidence of bonded labour, ill treatment
meted out to animals engaged in pugging / material
handling, etc., evokes considerable uproar from social
2.4 Absence of Appropriate / Sustainable
Technology Developers / Providers
Except in South India, especially
Kerala, use of moulding machines has not been much
of a commercial success as yet. This has largely been
due to inadequacy of techno-commercial investigation
and lack of proper financial and mental preparation
on the part of entrepreneurs employing mechanisation.
Every rupee of fixed investment added into a project
attracts additional repairs and maintenance, depreciation
and interest costs. Unless this additional cost is
offset by a proportionate increase in production,
or savings in fuel and manpower costs, the cost of
production increases. Under conditions of increased
production cost, to maintain profitability, the consumers
should be willing to pay more for better quality bricks.
This is not normally so, at least in the initial stages
of the project, leading to sickness / closure of the
unit. Also, most of the time, selection and application
of technology and machinery is faulty.
In short, three things need be carefully
considered before an investment decision is made :
· Entrepreneur's investment
· Nature and extent of locally available raw
materials and fuels
· Market response
Absence of competent and dedicated
people / agencies who can successfully develop and
implement appropriate / sutainable technologies under
varying socio-economic conditions, is the main cause
of concern to the brick industry.
3.0 Impact of MoEF's Brick Regulation
3.1 Ban on Open Clamps and Moving
Chimney Kilns :
The Government of Maharashtra has
gone a step further and put a blanket ban on operation
of all open clamps and moving chimney kilns in the
State after 31st December,1997( since extended to
30th June, 1999 ). Maharashtra Pollution Control Board
has issued a Circular ( dated 18-02-1997 ) to all
District Collectors asking them not to issue Brick
Permissions to entrepreneurs not following the said
Brick Regulation and the following Guidelines :
a) The site of the brick kiln should
be at a safe distance from human settlement, village
and highway ( about 500 metres). MoEF, as per its
Guidelines, has suggested 500 metres as 'safe distance'
for setting up an industrial unit.
b) Low-ash coal ground below 10 mm
size should be used in brick kilns. Mechanical stokers
should be used for feeding coal for its optical use.
c) Noise pollution should be avoided
in mechanised brick plants.
d) Ash layer on kiln top should be
covered with fired bricks or roof tiles. 'Pucca' internal
roads should be constructed and water should be frequently
sprayed over dusty areas to contain pollution in the
vicinity of brick kilns.
e) A cavity wall should be constructed
around trench kilns and ash be filled in the cavity.
Double-layer mild steel feed-hole caps filled with
asbestos should be used to avoid heat losses.
f) Fuels like rubber, plastic, harmful
chemicals, etc. that give rise to foul-smelling or
poisonous gases / fumes, should not be used in brick
3.2 Fallout of Brick Regulation '96 :
Maharashtra being one of the foremost
industrialised States in the country, its entrepreneurs
are generally not in favour of area and labour-intensive
firing operations like that of the trench kilns. Also,
they are averse to 'seasonal' and low-technology methods
of production. Therefore, even the existing moving
chimney kiln owners are in search of appropriate environment-friendly
and fuel-efficient kilns and not in a mood to change
over to fixed chimney / high draught kiln designs.
In view of this, small manufacturers may prefer Vertical
Shaft Brick Kilns of upto 10,000 bricks per day capacity
working year round and big ones may straight away
go in for automated Hoffmann or Tunnel kilns. There
is also a visible trend to go in for production of
sand-lime, flyash-lime and other cured / autoclaved
Calcium Silicate Bricks, avoiding the firing operation