In another setback to the construction sector, which is reeling under the effect of the lockdown, cement manufactures hiked prices in the retail market by up to Rs 100 per bag on Tuesday.
The move has reignited support for the long pending demand for a government-led authority to regulate cement rates.
Hardware retailers dealing with cement in the city said leading brands have hiked the price of 53 grade cement bags, each weighing 50kg and containing have Portland Pozzolana cement (PPC), by Rs 60 a bag. Regular brands have increased prices by Rs 100. The rate of Ordinary Portland Cement (OPC) of regular brands jumped to Rs 60. The current price for premium brand PPC ranges from Rs 365 to Rs 395, while OPC is sold for Rs 375 to Rs 410 a bag.
Damodaran, a cement dealer at Vinayagapuram near Retteri, is unsure of how to proceed after such a steep increase of the key construction material.
“A customer placed an order for 20 bags of cement with the old rates before the lockdown period and has made the payment. Now, I cannot sell him cement with previous rates because I will incur losses,” he said.
Dealers said the sudden hike, which came as a surprise, was notified on May 1.
Cement prices were revised in February last year, when rates for bulk purchasers was also revised by Rs 70. Confederation of Real Estate Developers’ Associations of India (CREDAI) Tamil Nadu chapter president elect Suresh Krishn said the cartelisation of cement is a blow for the sector.
“This will increase the cost of construction. Increasing the rates by Rs 100 per bag at a time when the construction sector is in doldrums was unacceptable and we want the government’s intervention to rollback the prices,” he said.
Small developers and those building independent houses would be worst hit. Builders Association of India state treasurer S Ramaprabhu said a regulatory body on the lines of TRAI was the only solution to maintain cement prices.
When contacted sources in the cement industry said producers have not revised the price.
“At the trade level, cement prices may have seen some increase due to greater demand now compared to reduced supply in Chennai and other Tamil Nadu markets. Prices are expected to stabilize once the supply from plants in Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh increases,” a source said.