Setting up a regulatory authority, on the lines of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India, and liberalising the market to allow import of cement from the Asian market would help in controlling the price of cement, said the Builders Association of India (BAI).

Taking a serious view of the steep hike in the price of cement across South India, BAI representatives said the price rise coupled with the increase in the costs of gravel and steel, the average cost of construction in Chennai had increased by a minimum of Rs. 300 per square foot.

R. Radhakrishnan, a former national president of the association, said despite the Competition Commission of India pulling up cement manufacturing companies in 2012, there was no regulation of prices. “In Pakistan, a bag of cement today costs Rs. 160. It is only in India, especially in the South, the situation is so bad,” he said.

BAI office bearers said the current price of Arasu Cement, manufactured by Tamil Nadu Cements Corporation Limited, stood at less than Rs. 275 a bag but its stock was too meagre to meet the massive requirements of the construction industry.

They said the cost of hot mix — mixture of blue metal and bitumen — had increased by around 75 per cent, and this had led to a slowdown in completion of civil works of local body projects across the State.

Unless the State and Central government intervened, the spiralling prices of construction material were bound to have a large-scale impact on the overall economy too, said BAI.

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