Facing stiff opposition from the Congress on the issue of high cement price in the state in comparison to neighboring states and seeing the proceedings of the recently concluded assembly session being disrupted on the issue, state government on Saturday warned cement companies of facing stern action on failing to reduce prices.
Industries minister Kishan Kapoor said all three companies having their plants in the state were instructed to either cut cement prices or the facilities being provided to them by the state government would be withdrawn. Kapoor said that the government would not tolerate exploitation of people of the state. “Cement companies have been asked to reduce prices immediately by at least Rs 30 per bag or the government would withdraw facilities given to them,” he said.
He added that if they fail to act immediately, facilities like subsidy on electricity and transportation of cement would be withdrawn. The minister said that according to the Central Tariff Commission, production cost of cement bag weighing 50 kg comes to only Rs 136 and if current price index was added even then production cost in Himachal does not exceed Rs 150.
“If we calculate the production cost by adding all the components like Value Added Tax (VAT), freight charges, and dealers’ margin even on the higher side, the price comes out to be around Rs 225 at most of the places in Himachal,” Kapoor said.
He said despite the low production cost, companies were selling cement at much higher prices ranging between Rs 305 to Rs 335 and that was sheer exploitation of people who sacrificed their land and environment for setting up these cement plants. “As there are only three cement companies operating in the state, they were trying to create monopoly by increasing cement prices time and again, which is not tolerable,” he added.