Once Kamani Industries had taken the decision to diversify they started the actual process in 1950. As a new product, Kamani decided to manufacture zinc oxide and to this end they made a decision to set up a small factory in 1951. This was the fourth factory of the Kamani Group. It had an annual production capacity of 2,400 tons.
Work in this factory started in October 1952 in collaboration with the well known company ‘Zinc Oxide Ltd.’ of New Zealand. Prior to that, on the 16th May, 1951 a company was set up whose first directors were: B. Swiskers (of Zinc Oxide), Prataprai Mehta and Ratilal K. Mehta. Initially the zinc oxide was to be manufactured in the Jaipur factory, but later due to a number of reasons, it was decided to carry out the work in Kurla and a factory was established there. This was the third factory to be set up in Kurla.
In the period from October to December 1952, the output of zinc oxide was 84 tons. But the next year it increased to 950 tons and then to 1,406 tons in 1954. In 1955, the output rose even further to 1,512 tons. In 1956, the price of zinc went up and so the production of zinc started to ebb and it decreased to 1,439 tons. After that in 1957 and 1958 it again increased to 1,611 and 1,766 tons respectively. In 1960 there was once again a jump in production which lasted for two years. In 1960, the output of zinc oxide increased to 1,862 tons and in 1961 it rose to 1,953 tons. Once again in 1962 there was decline in the production with the output being 1,946 tons. In 1963, there was once again a surge and the output increased to 2,134 tons. This output was an unparallel achievement. After this in 1964 and ’65 the output decreased to 1,553 and 1,572 tons respectively. This decrease in output was due to a shortage of zinc.
On December 17th 1959, the production of red lead (lead oxide) and litharge was started under Shri Punamchand Kamani. They obtained an industrial licence to manufacture 2,400 tons of these products annually. The output was only 37 tons in 1959 and 40 tons in 1960, but from 1961 to 1965 the production gradually increased to 294, 434, 560, 455 and 690 tons respectively.
Zinc oxide and red lead were included in the export venture started in 1960. Until the end of 1965 the total amount of these chemicals exported was 802 tons. As a result the country earned foreign exchange worth Rs. 11,25,000 and in addition they received an order for Rs. 10,00,000 from abroad. Due to the confrontation between India and Pakistan in September 1965, restrictions were imposed on the industrial use of metals, so there was a shortage of material.
In India two types of zinc oxide are manufactured, one is the type manufactured by B.P. (British Pharmacopia). This is used in medicines and bandages. The second type of zinc oxide is used in paints, rubber, rayon, ceramic batteries, chemicals, matches, glass, cosmetics etc.
Despite being small, this factory was very productive. If more of the raw materials – zinc and lead – had been available, the production would have been even higher.
From the left: Shri Mangaldas Pakwasa, Ramjibhai Kamani and Gaganvihari Mehta – At a function of the Kamani Group.
Shri Morarji Desai, the Deputy Prime Minister at that time, giving a speech during the inauguration of the second unit of Kamani Engineering Corporation Ltd. at Jaipur on 26th November 1967. Along with him are seen the directors of the Kamani Group.
On the occasion of Kamani Engineering factory achieving production of 1000 tons , Sri Ramjibhai Kamani handing over a memento to Sri Ramlal, the oldest employee.
Shri Poonamchand Kamani giving a speech on Founder’s Day at the Kurla factory – alongside are seen Shri Balwantrai Mehta and Shri Ramjibhai.