Virus-hit Ilkal granite industry in the pits

Virus-hit Ilkal granite industry in the pits

The famed red granite industry in Ilkal is facing the heat of the Covid-19 outbreak. The quarries and granite cutting and processing units in and around the town have gone silent.

There is a huge demand for ruby red granite, found in the surroundings of Ilkal, in China and other east Asian nations. A good 90% of granite extracted/processed here is exported to China. But the stone export to the Asian giant has stopped following the Covid-19 outbreak, laments Venkatesh Gudagunti, president of Ilkal Granite Quarry Owners' Association.

Also, the fact that the Chinese companies have shut shops following the global pandemic. Hence, they have stopped sending markers to Ilkal. This year, the markers left for China in December to celebrate spring festival (also known as Chinese New Year which fell on January 25, this year) and have not returned to Ilkal following the lock-down.

There are a total of 11 major quarries and over 200 granite cutting and polishing units in and around Ilkal. With no orders from China and other Far East nations, the quarries and processing units have fallen silent, rues Gudaganti.

China is returning to normal. Just when things started looking rosy for the granite industry, India has declared the Covid-19 emergency. The stone industry in Ilkal continues to be in doldrums.

Royalty hit

Fayaz Sheikh, deputy director, Mines and Geology, told DH that the government is losing out on royalty as the Chinese firms have stopped placing orders for the famed red granite.
"Granite extracted from eight of 11 quarries in Ilkal is exported to China and other East Asian countries. About 2,500 cubic metres of granite is exported to China alone. The department has fixed a royalty of Rs 3,500 per cubic metre. In the last two months, the government has lost Rs 2.18 crore in royalty due to the crisis caused by the coronavirus outbreak, the officer said.