Over 600 ceramic units located in and around Morbi and Wankaner towns of Gujarat have threatened to stop production indefinitely from Thursday, if the state government failed to meet the Rs 22,000 crore industry’s demand, especially those pertaining to reduction in piped natural gas (PNG) prices.
“GSPC (Gujarat State Petroleum Corporation) has hiked gas prices by a whopping 130 per cent within a span of two years. This cannot be tolerated,” an official of the Morbi Dhuva Glazed Tiles Association stated during a press conference held in Ahmedabad on Wednesday. The ceramic industry had shifted to natural gas from coal during these last few years.
“Moreover, in a recent move, state-run GSPC has added a particular clause in the gas supply agreement, which makes consumption of 80 per cent of the allocated gas quota mandatory. The unit is liable to pay charges for that much gas even if it can’t use that much. Such stipulation is not practical, considering the operational peculiarities of the industry, and therefore it is completely unacceptable by the ceramic unit owners,” the officials added.
On Wednesday evening, GSPC reduced PNG prices by Rs 2 per standard cubic meter (SCM), which will be applicable with retrospective effect from November 22. In spite of this reduction, the ceramic owners have decided to go ahead with their planned shut-down as planned.
“Reduction of Rs 2 is nothing. First they increased prices by Rs 5 per standard cubic metre and now reduced it by Rs 2,” said Divyesh Patel, president of Morbi-Dhuva Glaze Tile Association.
“Our demand is for PNG at Rs 25 per SCM. If ceramic units in Mehsana can get it at Rs 10, why are we being subjected to high prices?” Patel said.
“Members of four industry associations will meet on Thursday to discuss the price reduction and take a final call on the shut-down,” he added.