Demonetisation and industrial woes

Granite industry presses the panic button

A worker at a granite processing unit near Ongole.   | Photo Credit: kommuri Srinivas

ONGOLE: Small-scale granite cutting and polishing units in Prakasam district will down their shutters from Monday as demonetisation of high-value notes has turned out to the proverbial last straw on the camel’s back.

The industry has been going through tough times of late.

The units, numbering 1,150, which are noted for the black galaxy granite blocks, have lost their competitiveness following the “anti-industry” policies of the government, say industry captains.

Much of the retail business is done by way of cash. There has been no demand for this aesthetic building material since the scrapping of the high-value notes, they say.

“We are not in a position to continue in the business as the domestic granite industry has been passing through the worst-ever crisis since the State government hiked the royalty rate by 27 per cent last year,” they say.

“The revision in royalty rate for granite blocks came at the most inopportune time when the industry is struggling to cope with the high cost of production when compared to States such as Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, and Rajasthan,” says small-scale granite cutting and polishing units’ State president Y. Koteswara Rao in a conversation with The Hindu.

“This is followed by the demand for a very high 30 per cent contribution to the District Mineral Fund (DMF),” adds Martur granite cutting and polishing units’ president D. Srinivasa Rao.

“We will sit on a relay fast from Monday at Bodavada, where 300 processing units are concentrated,” says Martur units’ Ongole chapter president D. Sitaramaiah.

Processed granite slabs in the State cost between Rs.40 and Rs.50 per square feet. The cost in other States is between Rs.15 and Rs.20 per square feet, says Gundlapalli chapter president M. Ratnakar.

It is unfair to collect royalty on lesser quality granite blocks made available to the domestic units as good quality blocks are earmarked for exports, he says, while pressing for doing away with royalty for domestic units.

At least 50 per cent of the granite blocks should be reserved for the domestic units as was done during the NTR regime to enable them to get uninterrupted good quality granite blocks, adds Kandukur chapter president Divi Seshaiah.

Meanwhile, owners of granite mines have decided to meet in a couple of days to chalk out their course of action, says M.A. Azeem, secretary of Galaxy Granite Owners’ Association (GGOA).

The industry wants the State government to lower the DMF contribution to at least 10 per cent, says Federation of Indian Granite and Stone Industry vice-president Sidda Hanumantha Rao.


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Printable version | Dec 3, 2021 4:59:17 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/andhra-pradesh/Granite-industry-presses-the-panic-button/article16711422.ece

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