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Construction sector neglected: BAI

K.A. MARTIN
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The Builders' Association of India (BAI), representing construction contractors and builders in the country, feels that construction, a core sector, has not got its due from policy-makers and the government.

BAI, with over 10,000 direct members in more than 100 centres, says construction is the largest economic activity after agriculture, employing more than 30 million workers and contributing about 15 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product.

However, the sector still lacks an independent Ministry to take care of its requirements, says a statement issued by BAI here. The association and other industry associations have repeatedly demanded such a Ministry.

One of the major allegations of the builders is that the cement- and steel-makers have cartelised their businesses. These manufacturers, the statement says, have been engaged in what BAI says are unfair trade practices, resulting in the rising prices of raw materials.

BAI has requested the Union government to establish steel and cement regulatory authorities on the lines of other market watchdogs.

Members of BAI have, therefore, planned to establish cement-making units on their own. Initially, a unit is expected to come up in Andhra Pradesh and then in other States. These units will cater exclusively to the requirements of BAI members.

The statement points to the need for a standard contract document. India still follows the Contract Act, 1872, a similar one of which was repealed in Britain because of its deficiencies.

An acute scarcity of skilled workers is another problem being faced by the building sector.

The continuous nine per cent growth in the economy over a period of three years has exposed the weaknesses in the educational system, the association says.

The lack of vocational training has resulted in an acute shortage of workers, such as masons and carpenters.

The government should open more vocational training centres in consultation with the building industry.

K.A. MARTIN


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