Construction workers rue hike in steel, cement prices

Construction workers are struggling to get by without a source of income, in Vizianagaram and Srikakulam districts.  

Over 26,000 construction workers have lost their livelihood in Vizianagaram and Srikakulam districts as the real estate sector came to a grinding halt with cement and steel prices touching an all-time high.

Steel, which was available at ₹45,000 per tonne, is now selling for over ₹60,000. A cement bag which cost ₹260 six months ago is now costing ₹350. Non-availability of sand and a hike in transport charges for carrying construction material have also turned into a bane for the construction industry in the north Andhra region.

Workers rued that they are unable to get jobs in irrigation projects and road works in the last one-and-a-half years. “The government’s direct cash benefits are not enough for us as the amount is sufficient only for one week. We used to earn around ₹350 per day. But we have been without any work for the last two months,” said M. Appalaraju, a worker from Ayyannapeta in Vizianagaram mandal.

CITU State general secretary D. Govinda Rao said that the construction industry was the lone source of income for many workers in Srikakulam district. “With no work in cities like Hyderabad, Vijayawada and Visakhapatnam, many workers have returned to their native places in Srikakulam district. They are also ineligible for welfare measures of the government as they have ID proofs and ration cards at other places. The situation will take a turn for the worse if more workers return to Srikakulam where getting work is an uphill task,” he added.

A.P. State general secretary of the Confederation of Real Estate Developers Association of India K. Subhash Chandra Bose said that the situation would have a cascading effect on electricians, plumbers and supervisers. “There is no upward revision in material costs for cement and steel companies. But they have hiked the prices steeply in the absence of a controlling mechanism. A committee should be appointed to look into the issue as there will be a huge burden on the government which is also taking up ambitious housing programmes for downtrodden sections,” he said.

Cement and iron dealers are also unhappy with the steep hike in prices which led to a drop in sales. “Around 55,000 tonnes of cement was sold per month till August 2020. But sales have now come down to 30,000 tonnes in the last month. All-time high steel prices have also impacted the sale of cement,” said Baratam Kameswara Rao, president of Srikakulam Cement, Iron and Hardware Dealers Association.

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Printable version | Mar 3, 2021 4:37:15 PM |

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