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AP builders, contractors protest against steep hike in cement prices

Ch. R. S Sarma Visakhapatnam | Updated on January 15, 2018 Published on April 12, 2017

The steep hike in cement prices during the past one month or so, from Rs 230-240 per bag to Rs 350-360, is crippling the construction industry and other industries as well in Andhra Pradesh, according to the builders, contractors and others.

At a joint media conference here on Wednesday, representatives of several associations - the local chapter of the Builders' Association of India, the Confederation of Real Estate Developers' Associations of India (CREDAI), the AP Chamber of Commerce, and others - registered protest against the sudden and steep hike and urged the State Government to take immediate measures to control the price hike. Otherwise, they said, the construction activity in the State would come to a halt in a week or so.

P. Koteswara Rao, the president of the CREDAI (Vizag), said there was no justification whatsoever for such a hike and the industry cannot absorb it. He said the companies had formed into a cartel and were resorting to such unfair trade practices. He said most of the ongoing projects would have to be halted as builders cannot execute the projects at these prices. Construction activity would take a huge hit, he added.

O. Naresh Kumar, the Director of AP Chamber of Commerce, said it was not the first time the cement companies were resorting to such tactics and in the past the Competition Commission of India had imposed hefty fines on major cement companies in the country but "they seem to have learnt no lesson. The Government should exercise control over them." He said it was nothing but cartelisation at its worst.

K. Kumara Raja, the national council member of the Builders' Association of India, and G. Ravi Raju, the chairman of the Visakhapatnam chapter of the BAI, said that after bifurcation construction activity was gathering momentum in recent times, and the cement price hike would adversely affect the progress of the State. Therefore, the AP Government should act swiftly to address the problem.

A. Kasi Visweswara Rao, the secretary of Hot-mix Contractors' Association, said the AP Government had issued a GO directing the cement companies to supply cement at Rs 240 per bag for Government works, but "the cement companies are not honouring the commitment and the contractors are forced to pay more per bag."

The builders and contractors said they would intensify the protest after April 15, unless the State Government acted in the meantime to address the issue.

sarma.rs@thehindu.co.in

Published on April 12, 2017
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