SRINAGAR: Private construction work is in full bloom in Kashmir but the exodus of non-local labourers after the abrogation of Article 370 provisions has resulted in cost escalation of building material, according to industry players here.
Besides the hike in wages of daily-rated labourers, there has been 15 to 25 per cent increase in the costs of bricks, sand, stone and cement.
"Before the shutdown in Kashmir began on August 5, I purchased bricks for Rs 18,000 per truck. However, the same truckload of bricks is now costing me Rs 22,500," Manzoor Ahmad, a private work contractor, said.
He said the price escalation has happened due to shortage of brick kiln workers, who fled the Valley in view of the advisory issued by the government ahead of the decision to revoke special status to Jammu and Kashmir and split the state into two union territories.
Aijaz Ahmad Dar, who is constructing a house in Hyderpora area of the city, said costs of all building material, except iron, has gone up in the past three months.
"A truckload of sand was sold at Rs 6,500 prior to shutdown but it now costs Rs 8,000. Same is the case with stones used in making foundation of the house. Against Rs 3,200 in June-July period, a truck of stones now costs Rs 4,000 to Rs 5,000," he said.
With local cement factories not operating due to the prevailing situation, only cement imported from outside the Valley is currently available in the market.
"For the first few weeks of the shutdown, the rates of cement remained stable as there were stocks of local cement available in the market. However, later on, the rates of imported cement went up by Rs 100 per bag of 50 kilograms," Dar said.
Ghulam Mohammad Wani, a mason, said he is finding it hard to fulfil his contractual obligations due to the rise in wages of local labourers after August 5.
"I used to pay Rs 500 per day to each labourer, irrespective of him being a local or migrant worker. Since the exodus of the non-locals, the local labourers are demanding Rs 600 per day, which has disturbed my calculations as I had given rates for contracts to my clients according to earlier rates," Wani said.
While private construction work is going on in full swing, the government construction work has been badly affected as the local contractors say they will be making losses if they carry on the work at present rates.
"We work on small profit margins in government contracts. The price escalation is in the range of around 25 to 30 per cent, which makes undertaking these works at this juncture unviable," Ishfaq Ahmad, a government contractor, said.
He said the tenders for new work will have to figure in the price escalation as and when construction work can be resumed.