British importers of Rajasthan sandstone worried about child labour

July 18th, 2008 - 12:45 pm ICT by IANS  

London, July 18 (IANS) Reports that child labour may be in use in the quarrying of the world-famous sandstone in Rajasthan has led some British companies to tighten their import guidelines. B&Q, one of Britain’s top DIY (Do It Yourself) superstores, says it has adopted strict buying standards and rigorous quality management processes to oversee the suppliers of sandstone after hearing reports of use of child labour in Rajasthan.

Companies like B&Q are now using their India offices or NGOs to confirm the reports that there are many illegal quarries in the Indian state where children work.

A B&Q statement says: “B&Q requires all of its suppliers to provide evidence that demonstrates they have a robust process of supply chain management that assures their supply chains meet B&Q’s operational standards. In India specifically, B&Q is working closely with its suppliers to ensure guidelines addressing employment practices, health and safety, quality of product and environmental performance are properly adhered to.”

India is the third largest exporter of sandstone in the world. Indian sandstone has become popular in Britain for gardens because it is attractive and of good quality. It is costly, when compared to local concrete slabs, primarily because of the transport expenses involved.

The Herald reports that the British companies are already looking for alternatives to sandstone, given the controversy surrounding it. One such is reclaimed stone from kerbs and pavements, which are refurbished in Scotland.

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