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India’s Stone: Its Global Ambassador

Stonemart 1India has been known for centuries as a place having treasures such as silk, spices, cotton, gemstones, dimensional stones, etc. However, dimensional stones from India, especially from Rajasthan, may be truly considered as India’s global ambassador. We have a wide variety of stones and some of the finest monuments in the world have been carved out of our superb stones.

India Stonemart 2015, one of the largest international expositions on stone industry, kicked off with much fanfare in Jaipur on January 29, 2015. The four-day event was organized by CDOS and FICCI as co-organizers along with RIICO as Principal Sponsor. As a fitting platform for all the stakeholders in natural stone business from India and beyond, India Stonemart 2015 tried to furnish all conceivable space and scope for conducting business in the most congenial, productive manner. Domestic and overseas producers, exporters/importers, consumers and buyers, experts, technology providers, architects, builders, developers, corporate, etc. were seen showing activity during the event promoting their business interests.

Extending Full Support

Stonemart 2Vasundhara Raje, Hon’ble CM, Rajasthan, lauded the efforts of organizers for pulling together one of the largest stone marts in the world while welcoming participants and visitors in to this stone fest in Jaipur. She said, “India has been known for centuries as a place having treasures such as silk, spices, cotton, gemstones, dimensional stones, etc. However, dimensional stones from India, especially from Rajasthan, may be truly considered as India’s global ambassador. We have a wide variety of stones and some of the finest monuments in the world have been carved out of our superb stones.”

Ms. Raje highlighted the role of natural stone business in the economic growth and employment generation in the state. “Rajasthan is a mineral rich state; we account for 90 percent of the reserves of marble, sandstone and limestone. And’ it’s not just source of wealth, but also is a source of livelihood to many. We know that some one million people are employed in stone mining and processing sector. In this backdrop, this is very-very important area for the sustained development of the people and the Govt. of Rajasthan,” said Ms. Raje.

Expressing the sate govt.’s will to support the stone sector by all possible means, Ms. Raje said, “Since, we are deeply involved with ‘Make in Rajasthan’ mission, we realize that stone industry also becomes very important part of this effort. And, we have been trying to promote this industry as much as possible. There are a series of initiatives which have been taken, and we hope those, combined with the new Mining Policy coming very shortly, will move our global standing higher in the sector of dimensional stone.”

Ms. Raje’s words of encouragement would surely auger well for the industry which is growing fast and whose export component is pegged at more than 11 percent of the entire global export. India produces more than 27 percent of the world’s stone.

Sustainable Mining, Skill Development, and Waste Reuse

Chief Minister also raised the issue of sustainable business practices and the utilization of waste produced at stone mining and processing stages. She said, “We need to utilize the marble slurry and dust judiciously to ensure that environment is not damaged while mining the stone. We, therefore, have exempted the marble slurry from royalty as it is used in making powder. Moreover, recently this came to my notice that gypsum can be made out of marble slurry; we know that we have a lot of waste available in the form of marble slurry.”

The subject of skill development and required skilled workforce in the stone mining and processing sector did not remain untouched in the address of Chief Minister. She expressed the Govt.’s will to aid the skill development efforts by way of many state initiatives wherein she sought support from investors and the industry majors in this.

Architecture and stone business remain in reinforcing sync always. Both impart a sense of aesthetics and scientific accuracy to the dwellings, buildings, and institutions of humans. CDOS instituted the All India Stone Architectural Award to notice and applaud the great works of architects. Ms. Raje took cognizance of the significance of great lay out and architectural plan in unfolding of the some of the great cities of the world. She also exhorted the architects to come forward with their best of creations and help building smart cities in India to be marveled at by the world. “Under ‘Make in India’, there is a plan to build smart cities, where I see a huge role of architects and architecture. Building of these smart cities will be merged with architectural concepts that would live a lasting impact on minds of people in times to come,” said Ms. Raje.

Stone Industry: Buoyant Growth Ahead

Stonemart 3Addressing the audience at Stonemart 2015, Mr. C. S. Rajan, Chief Secretary, Rajasthan said, “As you all are aware that economic activities in India has taken centre stage and the whole world is looking towards India for exploring investments and business opportunities. Indian companies are also fast emerging as major global players and stone industry is no exception, especially in the fields of marble, granite and sandstone which are being used globally in construction industry. It’s now a golden opportunity for the Indian stone industry to penetrate overseas markets in a big way and also grow at a much faster rate.”

Mr. Rajan, in his speech, underlined the utility of technology in stone industry. He said, “Today, we all are witnessing rapid advancements in the field of technology. The stone industry in India has also started introducing modern techniques and technologies and results have started showing up. To tap the huge potential which exists in the sector, we have to modernize the mining and processing activities in an environment friendly manner to enhance productivity and minimize wastage.”

On the issue of afforestation, reusing the mining waste, and restoration of degraded land, Mr. Rajan said, “The stone industry, of late, has drawn attention of our Hon’ble CM regarding the utility of waste material generated by mining and processing of natural stones where they have highlighted the reuse of this waste into materials having further utility. For example, marble slurry can be used in the manufacture of uric acid; fly ash can be used in producing cement.

“We have to find suitable mechanism for reusing waste material available in abundance. Many cement manufacturers are fighting among themselves for fly ash. If the same kind of usability can be found for other waste materials like slurry or Kota stone which is available in plenty in Ramganj Mandi area, we can reclaim much land and rid of these hazardous stuffs.”

Skill Enhancement, Technology and Workers’ Safety

There is also much need of providing safeguard to mine workers from hazardous diseases which arise out of pernicious dust and heaps of waste as result of vigorous mining in the areas of Rajasthan. Mr. Rajan felt that there is utmost need to address the issue of worker’s health. He said, “The issue of safety and health of workers should be taken in all earnest where proper medical cover and regular health checkups should become the part of the best trade practices of the industry. Human right activists have also raised the issue of diseases like silicosis and asbestosis which is endemic to mining industry.

“The industry needs to adopt the latest technologies in order to minimize the release of dust during mining operations which is a major cause of such diseases. Though large players have already taken up to introducing better technology, others still need to follow the suit.”

There were other important issues and aspects relating to stone industry that Mr. Rajan took up during his address viz. skill development of workers and minimum wage revision for the betterment of workers’ lot. “I am told that CDOS has already taken up the issue of skill development and has started imparting training to workers in different stone clusters. I would urge the industry to partner with CDOS in this endeavor and motivate their workers to take maximum advantage of the initiative,” said Mr. Rajan.

On the issue of minimum wage of workers, Mr. Rajan said, “I would like to draw attention to this recent notification of increasing the minimum wage rates by the state government for all unskilled, semi-skilled, and skilled workers. There has been significant increase in the wages through the notification.”

Mr. Rajan sounded optimistic about the growth prospects of the stone industry with the above initiatives and said, “I am confident that with all the initiatives combined with entrepreneurial skills the stone industry can achieve the global standard.”

Rajasthan: Where Bane Became Boon

Stonemart 4Presiding over the event, Mr. Gajendra Singh Khimsar, Industries Minister, Rajasthan, welcomed all the guests, exhibitors, buyers, and visitors at the 8th edition of Stonemart. Mr. Khimsar said that it is one of the largest and top five stone marts in the world and No.1 in India and Rajasthan is proud to host such a prestigious event at regular basis.

“With the involvement of 10 countries, 15 states, 400 exhibitors, 115 overseas exhibitors, and overseas buyers from 50 countries, this event is going from strength to strength,” said Mr. Khimsar.

Speaking on mineral rich topology of Rajasthan and its treasure trove of world famous stones, Mr. Khimsar, said, “There is a saying that when God doesn’t give you width, He makes up in length. Rajasthan with deficient rainfall and deserts is amply rewarded with lots of sandstone, granite, Kota stone, limestone, and marble. As you all know, the 80 percent of India’s supply, especially of marble, sandstone, and limestone, is from the state of Rajasthan.”

“If you do a cross-section from north to south and from east to west, you will notice a rich variety of stones which are being used domestically and exported overseas. You have famous Makrana mines of flawless white marble which was used in building the magnificent Taj Mahal. Then, you have Jodhpur sandstone, sandstones from Jaisalmer, Bidasar marble all of different yet rich variety.

He added, “There are rich deposits of limestone in western Rajasthan where a number of cement factories have come and lime extracts are of very high quality. Lime is being used to manufacture other chemicals as well.”

“Jolore granite, Kota stone, Bansi Paharpur sandstone, Dholpur stone, etc. are some of the examples of varieties of stones found in Rajasthan, and all of these have already been used to build some of the memorable monuments of all time in India, and abroad,” said Mr. Khemsar.

Mr. Khemsar also said that mining, with modern technology, has become cost effective and stones have become affordable to all. There are increasing trend of introducing technology in all aspects of mining and processing which entails better days for entire stone business, he said.

AISAA Conferment

To honor creativity and excellence in the field of architecture, CDOS instituted AISAA, the All India Architectural Awards, whose panel this year included eminent architects Kapil Chitale, Paramjit S Ahuja, Rajeev Kathpalia, Rohit Marol and Gyanendra Sigh Shekhawat. The panel chose some exceptionally good works for a cash prize of Rs. 1 lakh and a citation. The winners were announced as Ar. Gaurav Bhatnagar for the house of Hakirat Sangha in the category Exterior Facing; Ar. Rajesh Rengnathan for his house and studio in the category Interior Design; in the category Commendation in Landscaping, Ar. Sujata Chaterjee Hingorani for the Anutham Residence; in Green Architecture, Ar. Deepak Kishorilal for the Denwa Backwater Escape.

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