Try these alternative bricks, for good measure
Going by the increased construction activity, the civil engineering consultants must promote alternative materials such as fly ash bricks and concrete blocks
ON A SOUND FOOTING: When a small quantity of cement is thrown in a bucket of water, it should sink and not float. Then only, one can make sturdy cement blocks for construction purposes. - PHOTO: K. GOPINATHAN
TRY THESE alternatives to bricks. Since brick making depletes the fertile topsoil of the lands and consumes more energy, alternatives to brick may be encouraged. Already we have a few alternative materials that should partly replace bricks in the long run. Brick makers can also enter into manufacture of these materials during off-season and improve their productivity and profitability. The additional production of alternative materials can give continuous employment to the workers who may also make additional income during off-season. The alternatives to brick include
1. Concrete solid blocks
2. Concrete cavity blocks
3. Fly ash bricks
4. Soil cement blocks
The technology for their manufacture is already available and the raw materials are not in demand.
These are made using waste material from thermal power plants and are eco-friendly.
It has, however, not found wider acceptance in the industry due to lack of awareness. The
Government can promote use of fly ash bricks by putting special conditions in the tender documents for their use for a particular type of masonry construction and also give subsidy to manufacturers.
Also brick makers may be given special subsidies to produce fly ash bricks. This will encourage them also to promote the sale of fly ash bricks. Since brick makers already have the infrastructure and experience in making building blocks, they can augment their revenues and utilise their skilled labour force by manufacturing fly ash bricks.
This may keep the labour force available with them engaged during off-season or rainy season. Also the environmental protection laws of the near future may make it difficult or impossible for them to use the fertile agricultural soil for brick making.
Also fly ash brick making can be done in areas where local semi skilled labour is available.
Mechanisation also is possible to enable more productivity.
Concrete cavity and solid blocks:
Concrete Cavity and Solid Blocks are other forms of masonry units which are extensively used in bigger cities such as Bangalore and Chennai where the cost of bricks is increasing steeply due to increase in input costs and other government levies.
Further, in some major cities and towns the non-availability of clay suitable for brick making has resulted in increased use of concrete blocks for masonry. The main input for concrete blocks is the quarry waste less than 6mm size, which is the wastage generated in the manufacture of jelly in the stone-crushing units.
But the supply of this 6mm jelly is also limited due to the production capacities of the stone crushing units.
In cities such as Bangalore or Chennai, concrete solid blocks and cavity blocks have replaced brick to extent of 30 to 60% in various building segments.
Promotion of Alternatives to Bricks:
Going by the increased construction activity in the region and steep increase in cost inputs of bricks the civil engineering consultants, architects and contractors must immediately promote alternative materials like fly ash bricks and concrete blocks.Already concrete blocks are being used extensively used in compound wall and temporary constructions.
Some industrial units have started using concrete blocks for small industrial structures. But the use of concrete blocks is to be encouraged in general building construction also, especially in apartments and commercial buildings where the masonry is a non-load bearing unit.
There are about 15 IS codes for brick and its use and about 5 IS codes for concrete blocks which recommends the use of bricks, concrete blocks and fly ash bricks.
These codes give the relevant standards and specifications for use of different masonry units in buildings.
Public should also understand the ground realities and make use of such alternative materials. This will reduce the cost of construction and promote the use of eco-friendly materials.
They should change their mindset that only brick masonry construction is durable and try to use alternatives wherever possible. In this respect Government also can promote such materials by using them in their own buildings and projects in a big way and providing some tax benefits for manufacture of such materials.
Association of Consulting Civil Engineers (India), and
Past Chairman, Builders' Association of India, Coimbatore Chapter.
Send this article to Friends by