GUWAHATI, Sept 2 - The Assam Real Estate & Infrastructure Developers� Association (AREIDA) today filed a case with the Competition Commission of India against the three cement manufacturing companies � Star, Topcem and Dalmia � which are operating in the Northeast for allegedly leading a syndicate and indulging in rampant cartelisation and manipulation of the market price to fleece the consumers of the region.
As a result of their illegal cartelisation, cement prices in the Northeast have been the highest in India for the past decade, the AREIDA said.
In a press release signed by its president PK Sarma, the AREIDA said, �We have filed a case under section 19 (1) (a) of the Competitions Act 2002, for violation of Sec 3 and Sec 4 of the Act, notified by the Government of India.
�We have produced money receipts and supporting evidence to substantiate our submissions. It has been pointed out in the petition that all the three companies have recently hiked their rates and are now maintaining a price level of exactly same rate of Rs 360 per bag,� said the association.
It further said the money receipts of sales of these brands in Siliguri, which is 500 kms away from Guwahati, involving additional transportation costs, show that the price is surprisingly only Rs 250 per bag. The evidence on record clearly establishes a tactical �agreement� among these three companies.
This agreement is later followed by the smaller companies. The association collected data from Kolkata, Siliguri, Ranchi and Patna and placed these before the Commission.
It said that the Northeast is a notified backward region of the country and for the economic uplift of the region, the North East Investment and Industrial Policy was notified by the Government of India and has been in operation since 1997. Unfortunately these companies, in spite of enjoying as many as ten subsidies as detailed in by the association in its petition, are artificially hiking cement price by cartelization, it said.
This, besides impoverishing an already poor population, is a severe drain on national resources both in terms of subsidy payouts as well as increased cost of infrastructure projects, alleged the association.
It is worth mentioning here that a penalty of Rs 6,714 crore has already been slapped by the Commission on a cartel of 11 cement companies operating across India.