ONGOLE: Hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic for the second consecutive year, granite units, primarily located in Prakasam district, are impatiently waiting for an economic revival after losing 30-40 per cent of their business this year alone. As the demand in the international and domestic markets has dipped to a new low, the units, especially that polish Galaxy granite in Chimakurthy- Ramatheertham area, are under huge financial burden as their stocks in large quantities remain stuck in godowns.
The fall in demand has eventually led to a steep drop in pricing. Before the outbreak of Covid- 19 in 2020, the units at Chimakurthy were able to export 30,000 cubic metres of granite blocks every month to China, Turkey, Singapore, Vietnam, Egypt and Dubai, and sell 20-25 cubic metres in the domestic market. After the two successive Covid waves, the monthly exports fell to 10,000-12,000 cubic metres, and the factories supplied 15-20 containers, against the usual 40-45, to the domestic markets per day.
“Prices of our products are hitting new lows as the stocks are piling up at godowns and stock points. As the exports were almost nil due to a lack of demand, we had to sell huge quantities for very low prices. To keep the business running, we are now selling the stocks for 30-35 per cent lesser price,” Sekhar Reddy, a Galaxy granite factory owner, told TNIE on Friday. Chimakurthy-Ramatheertham area is home to 70 quarries, and nearly 900 factories are present at Chimakurthy, Marripalli and Gundlapalli industrial growth centres.
All the factories are dependent on the exports, which account for 80 per cent of their business. After the first wave left a devastating trail on the granite industry as the supply to international and domestic markets were almost stalled, the factories were only trying regain their footing when another rapid surge of Covid cases began, thereby stalling whatever recovery they had made. A cubic metre of granite block, which was earlier sold for Rs 60,000-Rs 70,000, is now available for Rs 45,000-55,000. Also, the cost of 1 square feet of a granite slab fell from a high of Rs 120 to as low as Rs 50.