Marble, India – Yann Arthus-Bertrand Photography
Rajasthan is a major marble extraction region and is known for the quality and diversity of its marble. The term “marble” is a generic term for rocks that are easy to shape. Often, it is compact limestone extracted from open-air quarries. Marble variations and shades are due to the presence of other minerals in the rock. It is a prestigious material that has been used since Antiquity for human constructions. The most famous are the Taj Mahal and the Parthenon. In Rajasthan, where 90% of the Indian production comes from, marble extraction causes serious environmental problems. In 2002, following an adjudication, 600 mines were nearly closed because they were damaging the environment, but this closure was stopped by an appeal. However, no new mines can be opened. This region is suffering from drought and unemployment but marble cutting and polishing employs almost 100.000 people and takes up a large part of the water tables’ low levels. In the Kishangarh district, 2 million farmers have to buy water from private suppliers because water reserves are insufficient. Moreover, the dust from extracting and cutting marble covers soil. This makes it hard to farm and makes it difficult for rain to enter the soil.