Udaipur : Around 800 odd marble processors, traders and polishers joined in a massive rally here on Monday morning to protest against the high GST rate imposed on marble commodities. South Rajasthan specially Udaipur and Rajsamand which is the largest marble mandi in the country have been suffering huge losses after receiving threat from vitrified tiles from China since a decade.
Now, with the GST on marble fixed on 28 % from the current tax incidence of 5% under the new indirect tax regime, marble industry is sure to meet its end, claimed traders who raised slogans during the rally which began from Sukher marble industrial area to collectorate. “ A common man who comes to buy marble at a price of 15 to 20 rupees per square feet will now be required to pay 6 times higher. Why would he then buy marble at all” says Vijay Godha, president of Udaipur Marble Processors Samiti. Economy of several cities in Rajasthan depends on marble industry which has completely closed down for two days now thus causing a loss of huge transaction of 300 crore rupees daily, Godha said.
“ The industry is labour intensive. Most of the units including quarries and processing houses are manual and thus huge work force is employed in here. In Udaipur alone 2 lakh labourers are engaged in these units while there count goes over 50 lakh in the entire state” says Murlidhar Sharma, vice president of the samiti. The stakeholders after the rally assembled at the townhall and later handed over a memorandum to Udaipur collector. They demanded cut down of tax rate as per price category. “ GST rate on marble slab below 100 rs/sq be fixed on 12 percent while 28 percent should be charged only on slabs above 100 rs sq. This will distinguish between luxorious and non luxorious nature of stones and save the micro, small scale processors, traders and consumers to a large extent” Sharma said.
Marble and Rajasthan
Rajasthan produces over 95% of the marble produced in India. There are over 15,000 quarries across the state while in Udaipur alone lies 800 marble mines. As per a rough estimate there are 1200 marble processing (gangsaw) units and 400 Automatic Tiling Plants (Block cutters) are established in the state. In Udaipur alone, there are around 100 marble processors while 800 big and medium scale traders. Besides them are polishers and packagers whose livelihood depend upon the marble business.