After stalling the sale of Amma Cement for the last six months due to non-supply from the private manufacturers citing low price, the Tamil Nadu government has increased the price of a bag by Rs 26. Hitherto, the cement bag (50 kg) was sold for Rs 190 to the beneficiaries of the Amma Cement Scheme.
The scheme was launched in 2015 by then chief minister Jayalalithaa to sell cement at a subsidised rate for low and middle income groups. Initially, the Tamil Nadu Cements Corporation Limited (TANCOM), a nodal agency, procured 2 lakh tonnes of portland pozzolana cement (PPC). It reduced the quantity to one lakh tonne per month in 2016 based on demand, while it further reduced it to 30,000 tonnes per month a year ago.
The manufacturing cost of cement per bag was ?180. It was sold at Rs 320 to Rs 360 till March this year. It went up further and now, the price of a bag ranged between Rs 380 and Rs 420 in the open market.
Industries secretary N Muruganandam, in an order, said the government revised the price of cement bags following demand from the manufacturers citing the escalation in the cost of input. It, however, attracted strong criticism from construction labourers and associations as they felt it would come as a blow to the slow revival of the sector and the state economy.
The cement manufacturers requested that the cost be fixed at Rs 236 per bag as the existing price of Rs 190 was uneconomical for them. Justifying revision of the price, the government authorities said they have taken escalation of fuel price, wage and salaries of the workforce and other raw materials since 2015 into consideration and revised the price at Rs 216 per bag.
Muruganandam, however, said the revised price would come into effect only after the suppliers supply the cement at the old price to the beneficiaries who had paid advance prior to revision.