Mumbai: Builders and related construction activity members have stopped work today (February 12) as part of a nation-wide strike called for by the Builders' Association of India (BAI). The main demand is to set up steel and cement regulatory authority to control the prices.
Builders' of Association(BAI) is an apex all India body of Engineering Construction Contractors and Real Estate Companies founded in 1941, with more than 20,000 business entities as members through its 200 plus centres (Branches) throughout the country. Moreover, the regional associations affiliated to BAI form indirect membership of more than 1,00,000. In an official release issued it stated that construction is one of the most important economic activity contributing maximum GDP Growth and accounts for more than 50 per cent of total plan outlay.
Cement, an essential item for construction however, exorbitantly priced at Rs 390-400 per bag and seen an increase around Rs 100 per bag compared to March 2020 i.e. pre-pandemic. It claimed that the increase in price is not due to the market forces but due to the prearranged cartelization of production and supply by the cement and steel manufacturers with the purpose of profiteering. To check this practice Builders’ Association of India (BAI) also took up the issue with the monopolies and restrictive trade practices commission. After much delay the commission concluded that cement manufacturers indulged in unfair trade practices. Unfortunately, it did not have penalizing powers. BAI continued its crusade and filed a petition before the Competition Commission of India (CCI). Cement Manufacturers Association (CMA) as well as manufacturers individually presented their case through eminent lawyers. However, after hearing all the parties, the commission slapped a fine of Rs.6307 Crores i.e., 50% of their profit earned through their cartel on cement manufacturers. Even after this, instead of reducing the prices, cement manufacturers raised the prices further thereby challenging the order of a body constituted by an act of the Parliament. On the other hand without any increase in raw material, manufacturers of steel also raised the prices, it explained.
Therefore, the BAI has recommended that the Government should establish separate statutory Regulatory Authority to regulate the price of cement and steel to curb the tendencies of market dominance, under utilization of capacity and artificial scarcity.
Moreover, BAI also appealed the Government to appoint a high level enquiry on the reasons of abnormal cement price increase when there is neither any corresponding demand from the construction industry nor any substantial rise in input cost, with a view to have a long term solution to the unethical practice being followed by cement & steel manufacturers.
Also, till the Regulatory Authority is established the state and central Governments intervene and fix the Cement, Steel and other construction material prices making more affordable. This will also pave the way for achievement vision housing for all, the release stated.