India to help Afghanistan develop stone industry

Jaipur, Feb 1 (IANS) India will provide technical support to Afghanistan to develop its stone and marble industry.

The chief executive officer of the Centre for Development of Stones, R.K. Gupta, Friday said there was huge untapped potential for development of stone industry in Afghanistan and India would provide all possible support in this effort.

He said the Centre had been providing similar help to many other countries.

"There are some amazing stones in Afghanistan which can be mined and processed with the help of new machines and technologies," Gupta said after meeting a delegation from Afghanistan at the "India Stonemart 2013" event here.

"We would like to see a strong participation of manufacturers from your country in the next Stonemart in 2015," Gupta told the delegation from Afghanistan.

The Centre has offered assistance to Afghanistan in association with the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO).

Sunil Arora, additional chief secretary (industries) and chairman, Rajasthan State Industrial Development and Investment Corporation (RIICO), interacted with several participants at the event organised at Sitapura industrial area here.

Eminent architects from different parts of the country as well as from Jaipur visited the fair to update their knowledge about the latest stone and stone products on display and to establish direct linkages with the Industry. Some of them brought their clients along with them.

Deepak Ballani, national programme officer, UNIDO-ICAMT, said a rehabilitation package had been made for Afghanistan nearly three years ago, but it could not be implemented because of the conflict in that country.

"The plan was taken up recently and this visit is the first step in that direction," he said.

Under the plan, nearly $2 million will be used to help develop the stone industry in Afghanistan. The plan would involve technology transfer, conducting a geological survey on the actual amount of reserves and imparting of skills.

"In the first phase about 40-50 entrepreneurs from the stone industry of Afghanistan will be selected and we would take them through a programme to analyse their processes, help in mechanisation and provide marketing help as well," Ballani said.

Mohammad Ibrahim Shams, vice president for investment at Afghanistan Investment Support Agency, said the government of Afghanistan had already announced a package of incentives for investors and sought the help of UNIDO for development of Industrial parks and different stone sectors in the country.

"This is key to promoting the industry in Afghanistan as without the necessary infrastructure it would be difficult for the industry to grow," Shams said.

"We are seeking joint ventures from Indian companies in areas of mining and processing so that we can attain our full potential and offer our marble to the world," he added.

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