VISAKHAPATNAM: The skyrocketing cement prices has kept the builders and construction sector in Visakhapatnam district on tenterhooks.
Having put the overall loss at around Rs 500 to Rs 600 crore, the builders are mulling over declaring a construction holiday. Accusing the government of being negligent to the crisis, the builders associations say that nearly 3 lakh workers would go jobless, if the construction holiday is declared.
After demonetisation, the unusual hike in the cement prices has delivered a blow on the construction sector, which contributes to nearly 23 per cent of the District Domestic Product (DDP), apart from playing a vital role in the district development index. Post-bifurcation, the Vizag city and its neighbouring areas have witnessed a rapid development, with mushromming of hundreds of real estate ventures yielding turnover in crores.
But the industry suffered a jolt with the demonetisation and the last straw was the abnormal increase in cement prices.
Last financial year, construction industry has generated a whopping Rs 6,553 crore, while the real estate sector has garnered Rs 7,421 crore. Many new real estate ventures were floated in the rural areas like Anakapalle, Yelamanchili, Nakkapalli, Payakaraopeta along with Pendurthi, Bheemili, Narsipatnam and Chodavaram.
In and around the city, nearly 500 apartments are under construction. Recently huge apartments with nearly 650 flats are under construction in Seethammadhara alone. All put together in the district there are nearly 50,000 flats in various stages of completion.
Builders and contractors are alleging that a cartel was formed by some mega cement companies which deliberately hiked the cement prices. “Some big companies have formed a cartel and increased the prices. Last time, the government even penalised them. We demand immediate intervention of the government,” said Koteswara Rao, the president of CREDAI Vizag Chapter.
The CREDAI has repeatedly sought the government intervention and take immediate steps to bring down the cement prices. “We are thinking of extreme measures like declaring a construction holiday,” warned Koteswara Rao.
Sources said that the CREDAI leaders from across the country will meet in Mumbai on Monday to discuss the issue.
“Almost all the chapters of CREDAI have expressed concerns on the escalating cement prices and we have already represented the same to the chief minister. Nearly 2- 3 lakh persons are directly and indirectly connected with the sector. If we declare construction holiday, all workers will go jobless,” said KSRK Raju, secretary, CREDAI, Vizag chapter. “Till now, the cement bag price is Rs 370 and we don’t know when will this crisis would be solved,” he said.