Chief Minister Siddaramaiah said on Wednesday that the much-delayed granite park project in Chamarajanagar district would come up soon.

Addressing the inaugural session of the 11th edition of Stona, the flagship trade and exhibition event of the All India Granites and Stone Association (AIGSA), the Chief Minister said that several “granite clusters”, including those in Magadi and Kanakapura near Bangalore, and in Koppal, Chickballapur and Tumkur, were being planned.

Mr. Siddaramaiah urged the industry to adopt “scientific quarrying techniques” which not only resulted in better productivity but also had a less adverse impact on environment.

He said that the government was open to a dialogue with industry to resolve problems faced by quarrying units in the State. He said that the government was considering a “minimum” royalty fee which would be based on the number and capacities of machines used in quarries.

AIGSA founder-president R. Veeramani said that “regressive” policies had thwarted the growth of the industry in India. “As a result, while Indian exports have stagnated at $ 1.8 billion, exports from China have crossed the $ 5 billion mark,” Mr. Veeramani noted. Chinese exporters, he observed, accounted for a share of more than 98 per cent of the Japanese market.

J.B. Surana, AIGSA president, said that a notable feature of this year’s event is the “strong contingent” from Africa. He complained that the VAT rate of 14.5 per cent in the State compares unfavourably with the 5 per cent rate imposed by the Andhra Pradesh government. He urged the State government to constitute a committee to examine the grievances of the industry.

“We hope that the government would consider more favourable policies in the forthcoming budget,” he remarked. He urged the Union government to classify granite as a major mineral.

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