Granite: the dead stone

India has one of the best granite deposits in the world. With a varied diversity of more than 110 shades, India accounts for over 20 per cent of the total granite reserves across the world. The total granite reserves in the India are estimated around 13.87 Crore tones. It is one of the largest exporters of granite and granite products in the world. Geologically the Southern and Eastern belts of the nation are places where granite is available in abundance such as those in Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Assam, Bihar, Rajasthan, Odisha, Meghalaya and Madhya Pradesh.

Indian granite has become the most sought-after and extensively used stone material in building construction Massive structural works throughout the world, and it is well known in the international market. In India, the granite stone industry has received a wider publicity and corporate importance, only in the last few years. It is emerging now as a thrust-export area with several corporate houses, supported by expert professionals trained in all aspects, entering the sector with sophisticated world-class machinery and making it an organized one.

Machines at a granite factory lie idle in the absence of workers since the lockdown. Source : The Hindu

Handicapped industry

Due to the lock down, about 50 percent of skilled workers, mostly migrated workers, returned to their hometowns. In this situation, even if the government gives green signals to run industries, the industrialists are not willing to run their units due to the absence of skilled workers. Already the industries are in deep crisis because of zero exports and no demand in domestic market due to a fall in construction activities. The industrialists are not in a position even to pay current bills and other minimum charges to the government.

State Granite Owners Association president Nageswara Rao said they had never experienced this sort of situation in granite industry. In fact, Khammam district is popular as granite industry hub with about 450 granite and 250 tiles industries spread across the district. Nearly 8,000 migrant laborers from different States Rajasthan, West Bengal, Chhattisgarh, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh comes here to work in various industries.

Majority of the skilled workers are from other States, he informed. Nageswara Rao said that managements of all industries had provided food and shelter to the workers in the district during the lock down period. After the government gave relaxation, 4,000 skilled workers returned to their hometowns and the remaining workers also planning to go to their places. He observed these workers may not return to works soon and may take five to six months. Without workers, the factories cannot be operated.

The traders from China are not coming for purchase due to the COVID outbreak. Source : The Indian Express

Plummet of Granite industry

Granite industry, which is the biggest employer is in Khammam district, outbreak of COVID-19 all over the world. As a result of the outbreak of the disease in China exports to that country have stopped. No buyers are coming from China to purchase the granite from the district. As a result, several granite quarries have stopped production. Incidentally, China is a major buyer of the granite from the district for over two decades. Every month around ₹ 100 crore worth granite is exported to China. Due to the outbreak of COVID 19, neither is any buyer coming from China to the district nor is any Indian businessman going to China to do trading.

There are around 70 granite quarries and over 200 polishing factories in the district. Due to lack of business, the factories are closed and the owners are unable to repay the bank loans as they are yet to receive payments from China, which is around ₹ 120 crore The lack of business has resulted in several thousands of labor force being unemployed and many have already left to their native places and some others are seeking employment in the construction sector in the district.

No work till no workers. Source : Industry News

Managing director of Sri Venkatesh Granites said that they had already stopped night-shift and reduced the production during the morning shift as there was no export market. “We are running the quarries and factories with reduced staff as there was very less market in the country,” he said and added that the granite industry solely survives on the export market to China. He appealed to the government to step in and support the granite industry by reducing the bank interest rates and reduction of royalty charges to bail it out of the crisis and help the labor force secure employment.