As Kerala recovers from the fury of floods and rains, its citizens are now facing a tough task rebuilding and reconstructing their homes and shelter. A significant challenge for the citizens in reconstruction is the high price they have to pay for cement.
Malayalam daily Madhyamam reported the state government is now having to shoulder the blame for the sky-rocketing cement price since it has failed to intervene on citizens' behalf. Cement prices are the highest in Kerala. A primary reason for the high rate is the transportation charges cement firms have to foot to get the commodity to that state.
However, the problem with the Kerala government is that it hasn't taken steps like its neighbours - Tamil Nadu and Karnataka - to check the prices. Both these states use their public sector cement firms to control costs, whereas Malabar Cement, Kerala government's unit, is handicapped by various problems.
In Tamil Nadu, the state government offers cement for constructions activities. It not only uses its firms like Arasu Cement but also provides the commodity through its "Amma" scheme.
Karnataka, on the other hand, puts its public sector firm to productive use to control prices.
The issue of high rates for cement has cropped up in Kerala since it is the first thing that people are trying to buy to repair their homes. With their finances already already under strain, people are irked that high cement costs are adding to their woes.
The Kerala government has called for a meeting of firms whose products will be in demand as the people try to get back to normality. Industry Minister EP Jayarajan, who is in charge of the state with Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan away in the US for treatment, is holding a meeting with paint companies on 6 September. He will likely follow it up with a meeting with cement firms.
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