Andhra Pradesh

Impressive show by SEZ during pandemic time

The building material Special Economic Zone in Prakasam district has logged an impressive performance in the just-concluded fiscal, successfully adapting itself to the new normal during the COVID-19 pandemic times.

The SEZ exported processed natural stone material and artificial stone material worth ₹653 crore during 2020-21 against ₹446 crore the previous year, thanks to the rise in global demand for the products, sources in the APIIC said.

On the other hand, the import of capital goods during the period came down by 46% to ₹46 crore. The import of raw material for processing went up from ₹60 crore to ₹82 crore during the period.

Artificial stone material accounted for the lion’s share of exports to the U.S. from the SEZ (53.7%) as the overseas players exhibited declining interest for natural stone material in the wake of uncertainty.

‘Policies hindering growth’

The State government’s policies relating to royalty, dead rent, and galloping price of diesel were adversely affecting the growth of the sector, the sources said.

The captains of industry and trade could not fully tap the export market for granite varieties, which included the world-famous black galaxy granite in and around Chimakurthy, due to acute labour shortage.

The sector mainly depends upon the over one lakh strong migrant labourers from States such as Odisha, West Bengal, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan.

A majority of the workers have not returned despite improvement in the health situation after the first wave of COVID-19 subsided.

The processing units catering to the domestic market are running only up to 50% of the production capacity now with the limited workforce.

The second wave of COVID-19 threatens to disrupt the processing of granite for domestic consumption once again as the available workers long to return to their native places.

“The migrant workers are longing to get back to their native place, fearing that the situation may worsen further in the wake of partial curfew,” Y. Koteswara Rao, a granite cutting and polishing unit owner, tells The Hindu at his unit at Pernamitta.

“Our top priority is to get all workers vaccinated against the virus to execute the export orders as per schedule,” says M. Shivaram of the Jyothi Granite Exports, a leading player at the SEZ.

Quarrying activity has slowed down in the wake of workers in and around Chimakurthy testing positive, according to M.A. Azeem of Shaheen Granites.

The granite barons, who route their exports through the Krishnapatnam port, are also facing shortage of vessels.

They want the authorities to make available vaccines to all workers above the age of 18 to break the chain of the fast-spreading mutant virus.

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Printable version | Jun 23, 2021 12:07:03 PM |

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