‘Shipping lines are quoting four to five times the regular price’

Enduring the odds induced by the coronavirus pandemic, the granite units in Prakasam district have processed more than 600 container worth natural and artificial stone material. However, the traders are unable to move the containers owing to logistic bottlenecks. Factories in the Building Material Special Economic Zone at Gullapalli in the district alone have more than 400 containers of processed material ready for shipping to various countries.

“The shipping lines are quoting four to five times the regular price of about 1,500 to 2,000 US Dollars for various global destinations. Even after this, container spot is not confirmed, making it worse for us,” say a granite unit owner.

The ocean carriers also forced shippers to purchase extra products such as customs clearance and insurance to improve shipment prospects. Even after buying the add-on products, there is still no guarantee of shipment of cargo. Pressing for intervention by the Union and State governments, N. Sudhakar of Satya Exports says if the present situation continues for a few weeks more, the production in the SEZ will come to a standstill.

“Now a days, most shipping lines are not making a stop at the Krishnapatnam port, forcing them to take the containers to Chennai, about 200 km from there, which incurs additional costs,” explains M. Shivaram, Chief Operating Officer of the Jyothi Granite Exports, a leading player in the SEZ.

Importers in need of the building material urgently get it shipped from Mundra and other ports on the west coast. But, others are adopting a wait-and-watch policy, he says.

Those who have started units to process the artificial stone material are now ruing as the cost of the raw material have gone up by about 35%. Earlier, they used to access artificial stone material at about ₹8,500 per tonne. But, they are forced to shell out ₹12,500 per tonne at present.

Shortage of workers

The traders complain that the increase in royalty by the State government up to 50% is compounding their woes at a time when they are facing acute shortage of labourers n the wake of the second wave of the pandemic. A majority of the over 1 lakh migrant workers from Odisha, West Bengal, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, who went home during the second wave are yet top return.

Granite mining units, which have been paying royalty on cubic metre basis hitherto, are worried over the introduction of new weighing system for assessment of royalty. The skyrocketing price of diesel is hampering our efforts to tap the export market for granite varieties in full, the owners say.

Source : The Hindu