As workers go home, work comes to a halt.
New Delhi: Asia’s largest marble market in Kishangarh, Rajasthan, is badly affected due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Loading and unloading of lorries has completely stopped as labourers have returned home.
Himanshu Ladha, one of the partners at Universal Global Impex (UGI), a manufacturer and exporter of marble in Kishangarh, informed The Observer: “Where there used to be 600 lorries in a day now there’s hardly any. Each lorry yielded a revenue of Rs 7 lakh on an average. Imagine the loss now.”
The marble industry is incurring losses due to the migration of labourers. Several have returned home fearing they will suffer during a strict lockdown.
Buyers and consumers have also been affected as they are unable to proceed with construction activities.
Sanjay Agrawal, a resident of Patna, said that due to restricted construction activity and no sales by the marble industry, he had to drop the plan to build a house. “There are numerous reasons why I had to cancel the plan. Migrant labourers going back is the major one. More than half of the labour force was from Bihar. All of them have gone home due to Covid-19.”
Himanshu Ladha said: “Our business mainly depends on loading and unloading which only the labour force can do.”
Kishangarh Marble Market is Asia’s biggest marble mandi (market). More than 9,000 marble sellers, suppliers, manufacturers, and exporters/importers are involved in trading at this place.
The downturn in construction activities worldwide has impacted market growth and the supply chain.
“There’s zero demand from construction companies and sites as construction for personal purposes has been stopped by several state governments,” said Sachin Dohdiya, another seller from Kishangarh.
Marble manufacturers and wholesalers of Kishangarh said that they used to sell marble and granite to godown owners who used to resell it to potential buyers after adding a profit.
Ashish, owner of UGI, said: “Ever since the pandemic, due to stringent rules and lockdown, sales have gone down, leading to unbearable losses.”
The sale of marble and granite also depends on the production capacity. During the second wave of Covid, with everything shut, production has come to a halt as well, leading to nil or minimal sales.
“Our production unit is shut for a month now. We don’t even have anything to sell,” Himanshu Ladha added.
The governing body of the marble industry, Kishangarh Marble Association, under which all manufacturers and sellers are registered, is despondent. Anil Ladha of the association said: “More than 5,000 marble manufacturers and sellers are affected due to the current situation. We feel helpless. We can only hope for everything to get back to normal.”
According to Fortune Business Insight, consumption in developing countries is estimated to remain low as there is a huge shortage of skilled labourers.
In 2020, the marble market was estimated to be US $13 billion. It is projected to reach $16 billion by 2025, at a CAGR of 3.6% from 2020 to 2025.