Cong to oppose cement plants in state
At a time when the state government is trying hard to rope in big investment in the state, the Congress has decided to oppose the setting up of cement plants in the larger interest of the state and its people.
In a statement issued here today, Himachal Pradesh Congress Committee (HPCC) president Sukhwinder Singh Sukhu said the Congress will oppose any cement project, including the proposed one at Sikridhar in Chamba. “The past experience has proved beyond doubt that the state and its people have not gained anything due to the setting up of cement plants. On the contrary, they are sufferers whether it concerns pollution and the resultant ailments, traffic congestion and degradation of roads or vehicular emissions adding to air pollution,” he said.
Incidentally the BJP, including Kangra Lok Sabha MP Shanta Kumar, has promised that the cement plant will be set up at Sikridhar in Chamba and a white cement plant in Nauradhar area of Sirmaur. Now with the two political players adopting divergent views on the issue of setting up of cement plants, it will be interesting to see how the issue plays out.
Sukhu said the people of Himachal are even deprived of employment opportunities in the cement plant. “Barring the odd jobs of drivers they gain nothing,” he added. He said what hurts the people of the state most was the fact that the cement produced in Himachal is sold at lesser prices in other states while the Himachalis have to pay more for a product made here, using local war material.
Sukhu said the difference in prices of cement bags in Himachal and other states is quite huge. While the production cost of one cement bag works out to be a mere Rs 60 to Rs 70, it is sold for Rs 360 to Rs 370 to the people in Himachal. The price of ACC cement bag in Delhi is Rs 230, in Haryana Rs 255 and in Punjab Rs 285, he claimed. He said Ambuja cement is sold for Rs 225 in Delhi, Rs 250 in Punjab, Rs 245 in Haryana and Rs 365 in Himachal. Similarly, giving details of the prices of Ultratech cement, he said it is sold for Rs 200 in Delhi, Rs 240 in Haryana, Rs 275 in Punjab and Rs 360 in Himachal.
He said the entire area where a cement plant comes up faces environmental degradation. “It is common knowledge that most companies undertake illegal mining even outside the lease area, causing damage to the ecology of the area,” he said.