Protesting against the rise in prices of cement in the State, members of the Builders' Association Of India (BAI ) on Thursday submitted a memorandum to the Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi.

They wanted the government to bring cement under the Essential Commodities Act. A regulatory authority should be formed to monitor the cement companies and erring companies should be nationalised, they said in the memorandum.

Between September 1 and October 12, Cement manufacturers have revised prices six times. A 50 kg bag of cement that was costing Rs. 175 in September is now priced at Rs.295. Builders and contractors consider this revision as unreasonable and fear that project costs would spiral out of control.

Mu.Moahan, Chairman BAI, Southern Centre, said cement manufacturers were buying limestone at a nominal cost and had suddenly increased the price of cement per bag.

Similarly, the manufacturers while obtaining licence assure the government that the unit would achieve its full production capacity, but in reality they were not doing so, he said.

“There is no sudden spurt in demand, no new tax has been introduced and the cost of the raw materials has not increased. When everything remains unchanged, how can cement price, across brands, alone rise by 70 per cent? There is no rationale to this except the cement companies' greed. They function as a cartel and have artificially increased the price,” remarked N.Ragunathan, Secretary, BAI, Southern Centre.

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