CRYSTALLINE LIMESTONE AN ENVIRONMENTAL FRIENDLY PEOPLE'S INDUSTRY
Limestone related industries in Sri Lanka have a history of 2500 years. The majorcultural heritages and Buddhist shrines in ancient Sri Lanka has some ofextraordinary paintings and sculptures carved out from limestone marble andmixture of paints.
The paper reviews a people initiated, locally managed and environmentallyfriendly crystalline limestone industry popularly named as 'Matale Aluhunu'.Limestones are used to produce lime in the building industry, fertiliser or soilconditioners depending on the composition. Marble chips are used in terrazzoindustry. There are 3 major types of lime industries; lime kiln, dolomite and limequery. Total number of industries is 177 of which more than 50% are small scale.The cost of production of such small scale lime industry to produce I ton isaround Rs. 6500 and the income is around Rs. 7800.
Lime Industries Association in Matale is an organisation which was establishedabout a decade ago to protect small industrialists from middlemen exploitationsand price fluctuations in the market. Further it was also established with theintention of protecting the natural mineral beds (limestone and dolomite etc.) inthe district. There are about 1500 direct beneficiaries and 200 indirectbeneficiaries who receive a modest annual income to maintain their families. Thesalient aspect of this lime industry maintained by this local organisation is itscommitment to fulfill all the environmental and safety conditions set by thegovernment. They have all the necessary permits; environmental safety assurancepermit, trade license, local administrative permit, geological license, explosivepermit and the security permit.
This paper reviews the issues that need to be addressed to develop this ruralpeople initiated industry further, market and quality improvement support toexpand the industry as a large scale enterprenuship, attract capital investmentsfrom outside, research on production of lime for better environmentalsustainability, exploring the possibility of developing ecological tourism aroundthis industry etc.