Chennai: The Association of Southern Stone Industries (ASSI) has said that more than 30,000 workers have lost their livelihood for the last eight years since the closure of 175 granite quarries in Madurai district of Tamilnadu, besides causing revenue loss to the State government.
Talking to reporters here, ASSI president P Rajasekaran said 175 lease hold granite quarries granted by the State government, were in operation before August 2012 in madurai district.
Following certain allegations, show cause otices were issued to 84 granite quarries and the remaining 91 quarries have also been stopped citing that they were inoperational for two years, causing adverse impact and immense loss to industry and banks, besides loss of jobs.
Noting that 100 workers were employed in a quarry, he said a total of 17,500 rural workers were working in these quarries. Apart from them, 12,500 workers were involved in incidental and ancillary works like workshop, transport operators, spares, electricians, mechanics, machinery suppliers, among others.
As such a total of 30,000 workers have lsot their livelihood and their family were in distress for the last eight years.
Rajasekaran said taking into account 2011-12 as the base year, the loss of revenue to the govrnment by way of royalty payable for the period 2012-13 to 2019-20 due to closure and non-operation of granite quarries in Madurai district alone was Rs 212.24 crore (Rs 26.53 crore for one year). The loss of foreign exchange for the same period was Rs 3,386.24 crore, he added.
He said in 2012, then Madurai Collector U Sagayam, after inspecting just three quarries and extrapolating to 175 quarries had pegged the revenue loss to the government at Rs.16,000 crore. Later in 2015, it was revised at Rs.110,000 crore without any documentary proof.
The State government officials also did not take into account the wasted granite, overburden, rejects, non-salable minerals and adopted 100 per cent recovery after deducting 10 per cent towards dressing.
“We mine the granite from the ground. Curiously a criminal case has been filed for excavating the earth putting at risk the people,” he added.
Citing the Central Government submissions, India’s export of granite for the period 1996-97 to 2012-13 (17 years) was Rs.52,374.20 crore and as per the Indian Mineral Year Book 2013, Tamilnadu stood in fourth place in granite production. For 2010-11, the share of Tamilnadu’s granite production was 13 per cent, which works out to Rs 6,808.65 crore.
About 90 per cent of the production was exported and only 10 per cent was sold in the domestic market, ASSI said.
As per the information obtained under Right to Information Act from the Department of Geology and Mining, the Madurai district’s grnite production percentage from 1996-97 to 2012-13 (17 years) was 41.10 per cent, which comes to Rs.2,798.43 crore.
Considering the plight of the granite quarry workers, the ASSI urged the State government to accord permission for reviving the granite quarries.