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sicma: Where is the cartelisation?: SICMA President N Srinivasan questions builder lobby

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Chennai: N. Srinivasan, Vice-Chairman & MD of India Cements and President of the newly formed South India Cement Manufacturers’ Association (SICMA) on Tuesday said it was “unfair” of the builder lobby to go around parading as the “paragons of virtue” and accuse the cement industry of “cartelisation” and using every excuse to blame cement manufacturers for high cement prices.

“Where is cartelisation? At the drop of a hat, the builders and CREDAI give the government false information,” Srinivasan said. “If you look at the cement industry in India it is one of the most responsible and has created capacity ahead of demand. If you take a flat today, half a bag per square foot is the cement cost. So, the per square foot cost of cement, even if it is Rs 400 is only Rs 200 per square foot when the flat is selling for Rs 15,000 or Rs 20,000 per square foot. Even if the price of cement were to go up by Rs 100 per bag, the cost would go up by Rs 50 so why are you blaming me (the cement industry)?”

Further, he said that today in a city like Chennai, for instance, there are cement brands that are priced between Rs 270 and Rs 400 leaving it to the customer to decide based on their budget and brand preference. Thus, he said the claims of ‘cartelisation’ were baseless as the cement industry was the ‘least cause contributor’ in the larger scheme of things considering the industry goes by the market and prices too are dictated by the market.

Srinivasan said there was a necessity for a body like SICMA owing to the vast growth that has taken place in the cement industry. He went on to elucidate this by saying that India currently produces over 500 million tonnes of cement, trailing only China. In South India, he said that States like Tamil Nadu alone contribute about 40 million tonnes while Andhra Pradesh constitutes 120 million tonnes. Therefore, he said there was a need to have a regional association to look into local issues relating to raw material procurement, transport and other challenges faced by the cement manufacturers based in South India.

However, Srinivasan was swift to add that the SICMA will work in tandem with the Cement Manufacturers Association and that this new body is merely one to address the “special and peculiar requirements of South India.”

SICMA will be headed by N. Srinivasan with Ravinder Reddy, Director, Bharathi Cements as the Vice-President and Krishna Srivastava, Director, Penna Cements, as the Secretary of SICMA.

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