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Cement prices may reach Rs400 per bag

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Builders’ Association of India (BAI) fears that cement prices may reach the rate of Rs400 per bag very soon. Anand Gupta, honorary general secretary, BAI expressed this serious concern while speaking with Construction Week.

Currently, the prices are in the range Rs235-250 per bag. “We have seen a gradual increase in the prices and we fear that it will continue, thanks to the cement cartelisation,” Gupta said. “The cement industry has increased the price per bag by Rs15 in Jan 2009 and by another Rs15 in Feb 2009. It further added Rs10 in March 2009.”

Gupta pointed out that this is in sharp contrast with the prevailing market conditions wherein the prices of almost all commodities have dipped in the last 4-5 months. The cement industry has ignored an early order of the Monopolies and restrictive trade practices (MRTP) Commission as well as the pleas from the construction sector and continued with the hike to the detriment of the housing and infrastructure markets, Gupta added.

“Instead of taking disciplinary action, certain authorities have actually assisted the cement producers by removing the ban on exports and making imports unviable,” he claimed. BAI has suggested certain measures to tackle this issue. It feels that a cement regulatory authority should be appointed and export of cement should be banned. “Operationalise a competition commission instead of the tooth less MRTP Act,” added Gupta.

Meanwhile, ACC Cement has claimed that it has reduced prices by Rs5 per bag in April for the Delhi market. J DattaGupta, ACC’s COO, said in a press release, that there were no plans of increasing the prices in the near future.

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