Nath favours cement roads, asks industry to add capacity

Reacting to the industry's demand for construction of cement concrete roads, Nath said: "We will support cement concrete roads. Cement roads are a must in India... But industry will have to ensure that there is no shortage and price rise when we start building cement roads."

Addressing the 49th annual meet of the Cement Manufacturers' Association, Nath said, "While the industry is concerned about surplus capacity, I am more concerned about shortage.... a sentiment of shortage could lead to higher price."

The minister said there is no need for the industry to make a case for adoption of concrete roads; rather, they should make a case that "this is not going to lead to shortages." He said the UPA government is making massive investment to bridge the huge infrastructure deficit, which means more demand for the cement industry.

Nath complimented the cement industry for adding nearly 40 million tonnes of capacity in the 2009-10 fiscal, but said they should target 60-80 million tonnes of capacity addition, considering the increased activities in the infrastructure sector.

The cement industry had an installed capacity of 265 million tonnes at the end of the 2009-10 fiscal. The minister noted that cement roads generate more employment than bitumen roads and asked the industry to conduct a study to find out how many more jobs could be created by using cement concrete roads.

Earlier, CMA President Vinita Singhania said the industry has added 90 million tonnes of capacity in the last three years and "the industry is in fact faced with a situation of heavy surplus in all parts of the country." The industry would add another 30-50 million tonnes this year, she added.

Singhania noted that there is a strong case for adoption of cement concrete roads, not only for highways, but even for city and village-connecting roads. The industry is equipped to facilitate construction of 20,000 km of concrete roads every year after meeting the nation's normal cement requirements, she added.

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