A host of cement manufacturers assured Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi on Tuesday that they would soon convey to him a “favourable decision” they would take on the reduction of retail prices of cement.
The manufacturers gave the assurance at a meeting chaired by the Chief Minister at the new Secretariat (Omandurar Government Estate). They responded to a request made by the State government. P.R. Ramasubrahmaneya Rajha, chairman of Madras Cements, M.A.M.R. Muthiah, Managing Director of Chettinad Cements, P.N. Prabhakar, Executive Director of Dalmia Cements and N. Srinivasan, Vice-Chairman and Managing Director of India Cements, were among the captains of the cement industry who met the Chief Minister. The meeting took place in the backdrop of rising prices of cement. In the open market, the price of Portland Pozzalana Cement (PPC), normally used in construction for functions such as foundation laying and centering, is in the range of Rs. 255 to Rs. 280 per bag, according to G.A. Rajkumar, Chairman-cum-Managing Director of the Tamil Nadu Cements Corporation (TANCEM).
Last month, the State government announced that it was intensifying again the sale of cement at a concessional rate through godowns of the Civil Supplies Corporation.
Those constructing houses on an area up to 1,000 sq.ft. could avail themselves of cement at the rate of Rs. 200 per 50-kg bag. A maximum of 400 bags could be bought.
An official of the Civil Supplies Corporation said in October around 24,450 tonnes were sold. In August, only 1,057 tonnes of cement were sold. Since the launch of the scheme in January 2008, the maximum sale recorded was 59,535 tonnes in April 2009. Giving an account of the working of the TANCEM, G.A. Rajkumar, Chairman-cum-Managing Director, said, “We are trying to stretch our production capacity of eight lakh tonnes [per year].” Now, the Corporation was catering only to the requirements of government departments and organisations, that too partially. The annual requirement would be in the range of 30 to 35 lakh tonnes.
On expansion plans, he said the TANCEM had not been able to source funds from banks because it was declared a sick company by the Board for Industrial and Financial Reconstruction. But, there had been a turnaround in the financial health of the Corporation. In 2008-2009, the TANCEM made a net profit of about Rs. 7 crore and in 2009-2010, Rs. 27 crore. This trend was expected to continue this year.
“The government is making serious efforts to get our corporation out of the sick company status,” he said.