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Govt may import cement from Pak

Faced with spiraling domestic prices, India looks at importing cement from Pakistan where there has been surplus production this year, reports Gaurav Choudhury.

business Updated: Apr 07, 2008 22:36 IST
Gaurav Choudhury

Faced with spiraling domestic prices, India is looking at importing cement from neighbouring Pakistan where there has been surplus production this year, a top government official said on Monday.

“We are looking at importing more cement from Pakistan through the north-western border,” Ajay Shankar, secretary, Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion, said on the sidelines of a Confederation of Indian Industry conference here.

Unprecedented rise in construction activity driven largely by a real estate boom have pushed cement prices in India from less than Rs 200 per 50 kg about 18 months ago to over Rs 230 currently. Cement demand has clocked double digit growth in last two years, with production capacity just about managing to keep pace with demand. A report by research and consulting firm CLSA showed that maximum production of cement in 2008 would be about 171 million tonnes, barely higher than the estimated domestic demand of 166 million tonnes.

Shankar said the government expects the demand-supply mismatch to ease after cement companies commission additional production facilities.

Officials indicated that import of about 1,00,000 tonnes of cement from Pakistan could be canalised through public sector agencies. The landed price of cement imported from Pakistan would be about Rs 210 per 50 kg.