Meghalaya Industries minister Sniawbhalang Dhar on Wednesday threatened to initiate ‘stern actions’ if the allegations of ‘disparity’ of cement prices between Assam and Meghalaya is found true.
Topcem Cement, which ‘exploits’ limestone reserves of East Jaintia hills in Meghalaya to produce about 4,600 tons of cement daily, has been selling every bag to the tribal population of Meghalaya at a ‘higher price’.
It has been reported that people in Shillong and Jowai need to pay Rs 50 to 60 more for every bag of Topcem Cement in comparison to the retail price of the of the same brand in Assam.
Retail price of a bag of Topcem Cement in Assam is around Rs 390, while the price is Rs 440 to 450 in Meghalaya.
Unfortunately, Topcem Cement failed to come up with any explanation for the ‘disparity’ of cement prices between Assam and Meghalaya.
Sniawbhalang Dhar on Wednesday told Northeast Now that the government will act immediately if there is a formal complaint on the issue.
“We will also have to know what is the actual price of the cement brand while is it lifted from the factory, and the price in the retail market,” Dhar said.
Dhar hails from Wahlajer village in West Jaintia hills district, and represents the Nartiang constituency.
While Topcem Cement extracts huge quantity of limestone from the South Khliehjri Limestone mine in East Jaintia hills, people are not being paid any dividend. Instead, they are forced to pay ‘more price’ for every bag of cement.
Large-scale extraction of limestone by Topcem Cement at the South Khliehjri Limestone mine has long term brunt on the ecology of East Jaintia hills district.
In addition to extracting natural resources of the tribal population of Meghalaya, Topcem Cement has also been benefitted immensely under the North East Industrial & Investment Promotion Policy (NEIIPP).
The Jaintia Students Union (JSU) has always been vocal against the aggressive limestone mining activities by the cement companies in East Jaintia hills district.