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Building Workers Protest Steep Increase In Cement Prices

'The industry is working closely with the government of Tamil Nadu in making cement available at a hugely concessional price to the weaker sections of society.

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A section of workers from the construction industry staged a protest here on Saturday against the steep increase of cement price though there was no building work on due to COVID-19.

The South Indian Cement Manufacturers' Association said the industry was going through trying times during the second wave of COVID-19 and that the price increase of cement was inevitable.

According to some protesting workers, there was no need to sell the cement at higher rates when there was no construction activity.

'Retail sale of cement per bag was around Rs 370 in neighbouring Andhra Pradesh and Rs 320 per bag in Delhi. Why is that in Tamil Nadu the price is Rs 520,' the workers wondered. 'There is no demand for building materials as there is no construction activity in view of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Cement price per bag sold is the highest in Tamil Nadu,' they said.

In a statement, the association said, 'The cement industry was going through trying times like other industries during the second wave of COVID-19, it was operating only at 30-40 per cent capacity.' During the lockdown last year and during its second phase, the interests of employees, families and their livelihood were ensured, the association said.

'In order to sustain our own survival, and in view of an increase in all-round cost, price hike was inevitable. We also wish to clarify that cement price is only a small component of the total construction cost,' it said.

Based on an appeal by Industries Minister Thangam Thennarasu, the industry assured that cement would be made available at a reasonable and an acceptable price.

'The industry is working closely with the government of Tamil Nadu in making cement available at a hugely concessional price to the weaker sections of society.

We want to assure the government and the people that the industry will remain fully supportive of every single development initiative of the government,' said the association.

Meanwhile, Minister for Public Works E V Velu, at a meeting with government contractors, said the matter related to rise in price of construction materials, logistics issues faced by the contractors would be taken to the Chief Minister's attention after discussion with senior officials and experts in the field.

'This government will ensure that all the public works are undertaken in a transparent manner. The genuine requests made by you will be discussed and be taken to the attention of the Chief Minister (M K Stalin) ', he said in a press release.

(PTI)