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GLOBAL STONE TECHNOLOGY FORUM – 2014 Towards a Better Stone Industry

Global Stone InagurationOrganised by Centre for Development of Stones (CDOS) and Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FICCI) and held during January 29-30, 2014, at Jaipur, Global Stone Technology Forum – 2014, the fifth edition of Global Stone Technology Forum (GSTF), drew a large gathering of representatives of stone sector companies, eminent architects, civil engineers, builders and many other dignitaries related to the Indian stone industry.

The conference focused on issues such as the need for the best global practices and technologies for dimensional stone quarrying, processing and finishing; waste disposal and utilisation; testing, standardisation and quality certification; and conservation, restoration and use of stone in modern buildings.

It may be mentioned that GSTF is a biennial conference that CDOS has been oganising since 2005.

Maharaj Jai SinghWelcoming the members of stone industry and architecture fraternity, the speakers and the delegates at the event, His Highness Maharaj Jai Singh, Chairman, Rajasthan State Council, FICCI, said, “As you all know GSTF is an initiative of CDOS and FICCI to offer a platform to various stakeholders of stone industry for deliberating on the best global practices on quarrying and processing of stones as well as other architectural applications like installation, maintenance, restoration and preservation of stones along with other relevant issues related to stone industry. We have an array of computer experts and luminaries of the stone sector to deliberate on a wide range of important issues for the benefit of all participants. I am sure that all of the issues that will be discussed in the next two days will be of immense importance; and I am confident that the delegates will derive a lot of benefit from the thoughts and information shared by the experts from stone industry and the user community.

“It has always been FICCI’s endeavour to be part of the development initiatives of the Rajasthan government, RIICO and CDOS in the stone sector and other spheres. We have had a fruitful association with CDOS and RIICO since more than ten years in organising India Stonemart events and other initiatives of the state government and RIICO. The unstinted cooperation and support of the state government, RIICO, CDOS and other agencies of the state in various development initiatives of FICCI have been very productive; and as a result, we have successfully taken up a number of activities to develop and promote different industrial sectors in the state. One of the prime examples of this cooperation is the success of the India Stonemart exhibition, which is now recognised as one of the finest international stone fests in the world. The next edition of India Stonemart will be organised in February 2015. I expect all of you to join us in Stonemart 2015 and to take maximum advantage of this mega event.”

GSTF

Ashok Kumar DhootAfter the lamp-lighting ceremony, Mr. Ashok Kumar Dhoot, Vice Chairman, CDOS, and Managing Director, Dhoot Sangemermer Private Limited, spoke on issues related to stone industry. He said, “Conferences like GSTF are highly essential for the growth of any industry. We have fully advertised GSTF, but unfortunately not many representatives of stone companies have turned up today. And I don’t see the kind of enthusiasm I had expected to see at this event. I hope that in future CDOS and FICCI events will arouse a greater amount of enthusiasm among representatives of the Indian stone industry.

“We have given a new complexion to this edition of GSTF. The last four editions of GSTF saw some of the best Indian architects and experts. They gave valuable presentations on various aspects of stone industry and stone-related technology. You’d be happy to know that for this edition of GSTF we have invited experts on the latest technology in all sectors both from India and abroad. I am sure they will give inspiring presentations on the latest global technology during this conference. After gaining a good understanding of this technology, I believe, our industrialists will adopt it in their manufacturing and other industry-related processes, thereby enhancing productivity, quality and competitiveness. By adopting the latest technology they would be able to sell more and more of their products on the global market.

“As you know, China has been selling its products at prices much lower than those at which other countries sell their products. Why can’t we do the same? I have been to China several times and have observed their manufacturing process. I noticed that an excellent work relationship exists between the employer and the employee – something that we don’t get to see in our county. Indian employers and employees do not take business and work with the utmost seriousness. Chinese employers and workers do.

“Also, Chinese manufacturers use the most effective technology. In our county, manufacturers normally go for machines that they have already used. If a particular kind of machine has served their purpose, they will go for the same one again and again. They just can’t think of getting a machine better than the one they are using. It’s always the same brand.

“Besides, the Chinese government encourages its industrialists a lot. Our industrialists do not get the same kind of encouragement from our government. They have to face so many governmental hurdles… .

“But still I am happy to tell you that during her previous tenure, Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje supported the industry a lot. Her support gave a valuable fillip to Rajasthan’s stone industry. The state’s stone production increased and many new stone companies were established. I believe our chief minister will encourage stone manufacturers in her current tenure as well… . Steps should be taken to reduce cost of production so that our stone industry becomes more competitive on the global market. The government must adopt a policy that encourages entrepreneurs to set up new stone units in the state.”

CS RajanGiving the inaugural address, Chief Guest Mr. C. S. Rajan, additional chief secretary, infrastructure, GoR, and chairman, RIICO and CDOS, said, “India has working resources of dimensional stones and is the largest producer of dimensional stones in the world, with a share of more than 30 per cent of world’s stone production. India’s production in the stone sector is 46 m tons, and the sector employs almost 30 lakh people both directly and indirectly. The total turnover in the sector is over $6.5 b, that is, about Rs 40,000 core – of which the total exports from the county are Rs 11,000 crore.

“As you all know, Rajasthan is a leading producer of dimensional stone in the country, contributing more than 90 per cent of the total production of marble, sandstone and porta stone. Rajasthan has a vast variety of dimensional stones in different colours and shades and 16,000 units exist within the state. These units together contribute substantially to the economy of the state and have an incredible employment-generation potential within the state. The dimensional stone sector has always been one of the focus sectors of the state government. To provide institutional support for speedy implementation of the sector, the state government along with RIICO promoted CDOS in 1998 with the mission to develop, promote and support dimensional stone industry in the country. And I think CDOS has come a long way since then and has been providing a wide range of services and facilities to the industry.

“The major areas of focus for CDOS include trade promotion, training, technology upgradation, value addition, setting up of research chairs and stone-testing facilities of international standards. In line with the above objectives, the centre has taken up various initiatives like organising a biennial international stone industry exhibition, namely India Stonemart, for showcasing the Indian dimensional stone prowess and establishing brand equity of Indian stones on the international market. The event has established itself as one of the important stone fests of the world, providing a single platform for interaction among all stakeholders.

“Constant upgradation of technology and adoption of new technologies in mining, processing, value addition, productivity, energy efficiency, waste management and marketing are very important in the context of fast-changing markets and competitiveness. GSTF has been regularly organising biennial meets since 2005. The event has contributed immensely to the faster development of the sector and adoption of newer technologies and increase in productivity and value addition. The current edition of the event specially focuses on newer and innovative technologies; and world-renowned experts and speakers in their field of activity have been lined up by the centre for the benefit of the participating delegates. The other important activities of CDOS include promoting Indian stones on the international market, organising architects visit programmes to stone clusters, setting up and organising country pavilions for CDOS networks at major international events, dissemination of information about the Indian stone industry by bringing out a series of publications, establishing a state-of-the-art stone-testing laboratory for testing of stones as per American, British and EU standards. For promoting use of stones the centre has instituted all India stone architectural awards to honour architects for creative and innovative use of dimensional stone in their projects. These awards were instituted in 2009 and the fifth edition of this competition was concluded in December 2013… .

“You’d be happy to know that towards achieving the goal of technology upgradation RIICO and CDOS have established a stone research chair at Jaipur. One more chair is under consideration. I am confident that these research chairs will help promote research and development in the dimensional stone sector. The centre has also been organising regular training progammes and has trained more than a thousand stone artisans and workers in various areas related to the industry. Efforts have also been made by CDOS to introduce short-term stone-related courses at ITIs and polytechnic colleges with the assistance of Department of Technical Education. As a result, government of India has recently introduced three stone-specific courses at ITIs.

“Sensing the need for providing a platform for interaction and exchange of views among all stakeholders of the industry on different aspects of the sector like mining, processing, technology, waste management and environment protection, the centre has been organising seminars, conferences and interactive sessions on a regular basis. As a result of the concerted efforts of the state government, RIICO and CDOS, stone industry has started using the latest technology and machinery in mining and processing, and the industry has witnessed rapid strides in production and exports. Rajasthan’s production has increased from 100 lakh tons in 2000 to over 360 lakh tons in 2013. Exports have also increased – from about Rs 90 crore to over Rs 1,200 crore – over the last 13 years. The turnover of the industry now exceeds Rs 9,000 crore annually, and the stone sector provides direct and indirect employment to over 10 lakh people within the state. The demand for Rajasthan’s stones and stone products is increasing day by day. To meet this growing demand and to derive the maximum benefits from economic growth, it is absolutely imperative that we adopt the latest and top-of-the-range technology for environmentally friendly mining and processing while exploiting our precious natural resources and enjoying the benefits of globalisation and economic growth. The industry should also adopt measures for waste management and optimum utilisation of our natural resources. I urge upon all the delegates participating in this conference to deliberate on this important issue and evolve a concrete action plan for reducing pollution and preserving precious natural resources.”

RK GUPTAGiving a brief description of All India Stone Architectural Awards (AISSA), Mr. R.K. Gupta, CEO, CDOS, said: “CDOS instituted AISSA in 2009. The awards are given to architects to honour their creative and innovative use of natural stone in their projects. Winners are selected in four categories – exterior facings, interior designs, landscaping and green architecture. Each category carries a cash prize of Rs 1 lakh, a trophy and a citation. The entries are judged by eminent personalities in the field of architecture. This year’s jury consists of eminent architects from the country.”

The award recipients for 2013 were announced by Ms. Shamini Shankar, an eminent architect.

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