The construction sector in Tamil Nadu got an Amma booster dose on Friday when chief minister J Jayalalithaa launched a concessional cement brand priced at less than the market price.
The scheme, which is named after Jayalalithaa who is addressed as 'Amma (mother)' by her supporters, follows similar low-cost initiatives like the Amma Canteen and Amma Mineral water, came a day ahead of the key verdict in a disproportionate assets case that can unseat the chief minister temporarily if the judgment is adverse.
The cement scheme will help the lower and middle income group by bringing down construction costs.
Prices of cement have skyrocketed in south India — with an increase of over 125% recorded in the recent months, adversely hitting the housing construction sector.
Prices have increased by Rs 60 to Rs 100 per bag, taking the price of a cement bag of 50 kgs to nearly Rs 300 per bag, industry sources said.
Under Jayalalithaa's scheme, cement will be sold at Rs 190 per bag. A maximum of 750 bags of concessional cement would be allowed per person who has an approved plan, a government statement said. For renovation or repairs, up to 100 bags of cement would be allowed.
The government will procure two lakh tonnes of cement from private manufacturers every month and sell them through all urban and rural local bodies at Rs 190 per bag, the government release added.
Tamil Nadu Cement Corporation will be the nodal agency for the scheme to be run by Tamil Nadu Civil Supplies Corporation and Rural Development Department.
Jayalalithaa said she had recently discussed with officials the situation regarding production of cement from the state and supply from outside.
The erstwhile united Andhra Pradesh contributed about 4-4.5 lakh tonnes of cement for Tamil Nadu's monthly average use of 17-18 lakh tonnes, but the companies there had now hiked the prices by Rs 80-100 per bag, she said.
"Subsequently, the supplies to Tamil Nadu had reduced to around 1.50 lakh tonnes to 3 lakh tonnes, creating a favourable situation for the private manufacturers here to increase price of cement," she said in the statement.
The scheme will also cover the state's Green House and central government's Indira Awas Yojana.