KHAMMAM: Oxygen may be saving the lives of Covid-19 patients but it is killing the livelihoods of workers in granite industry. The reason: no oxygen is available for the industry which it uses for cutting granite slabs as all life-saving gas is now going to hospitals.
Due to non-availability of oxygen, more than half of the granite industry units have been shut down, throwing thousands of workers out of employment. With no alternative left, they had left for their native places. The industry is also suffering as it is incurring a loss of Rs 2 crore every day.
The Khammam district is the hub for black granite with about 435 granite units and as many as 100 tiles units, which were set up a long time ago. Every day, about 2,40,000 square ft of granite slabs are transported to various states and some destinations abroad.
After Covid-19 began spreading like the wrath of God making the patients breathless, granite industry was affected last year. As Coronavirus showed mellowing down since December, the industry began looking up. But the second wave, which has proved to be much more virulent and deleterious, has once again brought the industry down. With all oxygen having been ordered to be sent to hospitals, no granite unit is functional now.
According to Granite Industries Association president Thammenani Venkata Rao and honorary president Talluri Madhusudhan Rao, the industry employs around 8,000 skilled workers from Chhattishgarh, Rajasthan, Bengal and Odisha. As many as 5,000 families get indirect employment.
In this industry, oxygen plays a vital role in cutting the raw granite slabs, but these days there is no supply from dealers. Taking the cue, the skilled workers have returned to their native states. As if their cup of woes is not full, the finished products from the non-Covid period has piled up with no one coming forward to buy it on account of the second wave sweeping across the district.The association calls for an intervention by the government to ensure that the industry does not die an unnatural death. “We cannot face losses year after year. The government should hand-hold us,” said Venkata Rao.