STONA is one fair (Feb. 12-15) where no stone will be left unturned, according to the All India Granites and Stone Association. The pure stone variety that comes in every possible avatar showcases Indian and world products for all sectors of the stone industry.

“When you see stones shimmering at the STONA 2014 or the sheer abundance of the natural material displayed in a host of avatars at the Stone Fair, don’t think the industry is in the pink of its health. We are trying to do our best to give the natural stone industry a significant growth opportunity with higher visibility, a professional-oriented visitor profile and efficient business development modules,” said J.B. Surana, President, All India Granites and Stone Association. He was speaking at a press meet organised ahead of the STONA Exhibition – 11 International Granites and Stone Fair from February 12-15, at the Bangalore International Exhibition Centre, Tumkur Road.

With the largest granite deposit in the world, accounting for 20 per cent of the total reserves in marble, granite, sandstone and slate, India possesses nearly 1,690 million cubic metres of the natural stone deposits, available in 160 shades. “Only three per cent of the available raw material is being exploited, with potential for more to be explored,” explained Mr. Surana. “Policy changes remain the need of the hour to face the demand with respect to export and import,” he said.

Mr. Surana went on to explain that India’s natural stone production is the highest in the world with 32,342 million tonnes, followed by China with 31,000 million tonnes. But India remains at the back when it comes to export of finished goods. China, Brazil and Italy follow a liberal policy to reach higher positions with respect to their export. Even if India’s exports have crossed Rs.9,000 crore now with 25 per cent growth year-on-year, a friendlier free-trade policy could have helped us not lose exports to South-east Asia where we have lost nearly Rs. 25,000 crore business in about a decade. These remain our points in the memorandum to the government,” rued Mr. Surana.

Initially, the industry was exporting rough dimensional blocks to Japan, Italy and other countries. When other countries were unaware about such premium material as granite available in India, Italy processed the Indian blocks and exported them as Italian products, said Mr. Surana. Now, with technology at its best, India is exporting to more than 90 countries across the globe. But that is just not enough, as “we are lagging behind in exports, and import is ridden with obstacles.”

STONA Exhibition – 11th International Granites and Stone Fair from February 12-15, at the Bangalore International Exhibition Centre, Tumkur Road.