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Science
COSTING THE EARTH
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Thursday 21:00-21:30
Repeat Friday 15:00
Costing the Earth tells stories which touch all our lives, looking at man's effect on the environment and at how the environment reacts. It questions accepted truths, challenges the people in charge and reports on progress towards improving the world we live in.
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Listen to 4 January
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TOM HEAP
Tom Heap
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Thursday 4 January 2007
Indian stonebreakers
Tom meets a family working in a quarry near Bangalore

Stonebreakers
Natural stone is the thing to have in many homes and gardens these days. Granite is a particularly popular and stylish material for kitchen worktops and floors.
It looks good, it’s easy to clean and is now very affordable thanks to foreign imports that have increased over the last decade. In the last five years alone, sales of Indian granite in Britain have risen from 1600 tonnes to 14,000 tonnes – that’s an eight fold increase. Suppliers say it’s cheaper to produce stone overseas, and that it costs more to transport from London to Aberdeen than to bring it by boat from India. Strict environmental regulations and higher production costs have reduced the British stone industry to just a few quarries, so British stone is less available and much more expensive than foreign varieties. But if production costs overseas are so much lower, what are the implications for the people who produce the stone - the stonebreakers who work in Indian quarries? While many British companies try to ensure their stone is ethically sourced, traceability is often impossible. The main concerns are for the health and safety of Indian workers, as well as about child labour.
Tom Heap travels to Bangalore in southern India to witness the human and environmental cost of digging granite for export. He visits quarries and talks to the stonebreakers. He finds evidence of illegal mining that has damaged forests and villages. And when he talks to the workers he finds that some of them are being held illegally, used as “bonded labour” and that children are also working in the granite quarries.
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