‘A Cement Regulatory Authority should be formed at the national-level’

Builders in Coimbatore took out a rally on Tuesday demanding measures by the State Government to bring down cement prices.

This was part of the State-wide protest organised by the Builders’ Association of India.

K. Viswanathan, vice-president of the association, said that in some districts, the builders observed fast and in some others, they staged demonstration. In Coimbatore, the builders took out a rally and submitted a memorandum to Collector M. Karunagaran.

Cement prices were Rs. 330 a bag now as against Rs. 275 a bag six months ago. Though the Tamil Nadu Cements Corporation was supplying cement at Rs. 260 a bag even now, the cement companies had increased the prices, especially in Tamil Nadu. There was no steep hike in the cost inputs and hence there was no reason for the cement prices to go up.

A Cement Regulatory Authority should be formed at the national-level and till then, the State should have an appropriate mechanism to control price increase, he said.

Another major problem faced by the construction sector in Coimbatore was the high price of sand. With supply dwindling because of the recent court order, the price of sand had shot up. The State Government had taken measures to promote use of manufactured sand. “We request the Government to put in place a proper regulatory mechanism for quality control of manufactured sand,” he said.

Use of manufactured sand on a large scale might take time and the Government should find new sources for sand in the State.

The State Government should also expedite environmental clearances for new sources of sand mining. This would provide a stable supply of sand to the construction sector, he said.

The Construction Workers’ Association (AITUC) extended support to the protest by the builders. Its general secretary N. Selvaraj has said in a release that prices of cement, steel, and sand have gone up in the State. This affected the contractors, workers and the public. The Government should also take action on quarries in the district that violated norms.

The protest in Coimbatore was also supported by the Confederation of Real Estate Developers’ Association of India, Indian Institute of Architects, Association of Consulting Civil Engineers (India), Coimbatore Civil Engineers’ Association, and Association of Licensed Building Surveyors.

Our Staff Reporter from Tirupur adds:

Upset over the increase in prices of construction materials, Builders’ Association of India members and a group of civil engineers observed a fast here on Tuesday to express their dissent on the issue.

BAI (Tirupur chapter) vice-president K. Shanmugaraj told reporters that prices of cement, reinforcement steel and sand had witnessed a steep increase in the last three years in unjustifiable scales.

He cited the case of cement, the prices of which had increased from Rs. 265 a bag of 50 kg a few months ago to Rs. 350 a bag now.

“This price hike can never be justified as it is disproportional to the production cost. The cost of production of Portland Pozzolana Cement variety is just Rs.125 for a bag but sold at around Rs. 350 a bag by companies,” he pointed out.

He said that it was unfortunate that some of the cement manufacturing companies had steeply raised the prices of their products even after the BAI won a case against the price hike this year in a petition filed before Competition Commission of India.

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