Union Minister Nitin Gadkari warned companies, especially in the cement and steel sectors, of stern action if they formed cartels to increase the prices of key infrastructure commodities.
With infrastructure sector witnessing an upswing in activities in recent years, Gadkari said the emphasis of new technologies should be on reducing the cost of projects without compromising quality.
“The cost of construction has increased due to cartels. And I will not hesitate in making allegations against them (the companies) Now the rates of cement have increased,” said Gadkari, who is the Minister of Road Transport & Highways, Shipping, Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation.
Gadkari observed that there was no increase in the royalty, labour charges, yet the costs spiralled.
“Steel industry rates have also increased. Now the cost of sand is equal to the cost of cement,” he said. He noted that the government does not have any problem in companies earning profits but they should be “reasonable” in it.
“If somebody is going to exploit then it is not good. It is the duty of the government to control it and we are seriously thinking on it,” he said.
If the people are taking disadvantage of all the construction that is taking place in the country by making a cartel then it is time for the government to take stern action against them, he said.
Gadkari, who also holds charge of the Shipping Ministry, was addressing a workshop on ‘Use of Large Diameter Pipes for Mega Water Conservation’.
He said talks are also on with power companies to use treated sewage water that goes into Ganga, polluting the water body.
The Minister also batted for the use of big underground pipes to transport water over traditional canal systems which involves high cost, displacement of people, water thefts and its wastage.
Calling himself the “son of a farmer”, Gadkari said water is the most precious commodity and the government’s thrust has been on effective water management that could help irrigate farms.
He said lack of water is one of the major reasons for crop failure, which results in farmer suicides. The problem has to be addressed by transporting water from where it is available to scarcity-hit places.