Even though several relaxations and exemptions for industries were announced in the revised lockdown guidelines, 80 per cent of granite units in Prakasam district are facing a tough time.
Apart from strict implementation of lockdown, the industry is presently facing a major manpower crisis after the mass exodus of migrant workers.
The district has three main clusters—Galaxy granite in and around Cheemakurthy, steel-grey granite in Ballikurava-Martur region and Black Pearl in Gurijepalli- Santhamaguluru mandal limits.
At Cheemakurthy, mining for the world famous Galaxy granite is carried out in 60 quarries. Around 600 factories and 20 crushing units provide livelihood to around 20,000 workers, most of whom belong to Rajasthan, Odisha, Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh.
With 16,000 to 17,000 workers going back home, the industry has been paralysed; all the machine operators and drillers are migrant workers.“Though we have been living in critical times since six months, now, the migrant workers returning to their native places is a big jolt for us. “It may take a long time for the industry to come out of the present crisis,” Andhra Pradesh Granite Federation chairman Siddha Venkateswara Rao told TNIE on Wednesday.
Apart of Cheemakurthy, nearly 400 Gundlapalli – District Industrial Growth Centre-based granite industries are also facing a problem of shortage of workers.
“In fact, this year has not been good for the industry. We are suffering in the form of issuing notices on payments of heavy penalties regarding violation of rules and regulations and now the issue is under consideration,” Venkateswara Rao observed.
On the other side, lockdown and subsequent troubles hampered the regular operations of all quarries, factories and crushing units. “Only 20 per cent of the industries are continuing work with very minimal/skeletal workforce,” General Galaxy Granite Quarry Owners’ Welfare Association, Cheemakurthy secretary Mohammed Abdul Azeem, owner of Shaheen Granites, explained.