Topcem Cement, which ‘exploits’ limestone reserves of East Jaintia hills in Meghalaya to produce 4,600 tons of cement daily, has deprived ‘tribal customers’ to voice their grievances on cement quality.
A lot of customers in the twin districts of Jaintia hills and almost all the districts of Khasi hills complained that Topcem Cement has deliberately ‘closed’ its toll-free number to ‘prohibit’ people from complaining.
Tribal customers from different places in Meghalaya complained that they have been trying to call the toll-free number (1800-1233666) of Topcem Cement. But, the number is permanently switched off.
The toll-free number of Topcem Cement is prominently displayed on the Homepage of the company’s website, and was to allow customers to voice their grievances about the prominent cement brand.
“It is surprising. The toll-free number of Topcem Cement is permanently switched off,” Banteilang Lyngdoh, a customer in Khliehriat in East Jaintia hills district, said.
Lyngdoh said he had bought four bags of cement at Rs 450 per bag from a retailer in Khliehriat, and found some problem with the quality of all the bags.
“The cement bags were damp, and there were several chunk,” Lyngdoh said, adding that the retailer refused to take back the cement bags, and had asked him to register a complaint on the toll-free numbers.
Kitdor Shullai, another customer in Nongmynsong complained he had some quality problems with some bags of Topcem Cement he had bought recently from the Polo Bazar in Shillong.
“Don’t know why the Topcem Cement management is trying to block the toll-free phone number,” Shullai said, adding that reputation of Topcem Cement has touched the rock bottom because of its poor customer response.
It is unfortunate that Topcem Cement has blocked its toll-free number to ‘gag’ the voice of the customers in Meghalaya.
Despite repeated attempts, Anil Kapur, president of Topcem Cement was not available for comments on permanently closing down its toll-free number, and depriving the tribal customers to voice their grievances.
Topcem Cement has already earned the dubious distinction of ‘looting’ tribal customers of Meghalaya.
The Meghalaya Cements Limited, which sells its cement under the brand name Topcem Cement, has been selling every bag to the tribal population of Meghalaya at ‘higher price’.
A recent survey conducted by Northeast Now team in different locations in Assam and Meghalaya showed that people in Shillong and Jowai are paying Rs 40 to 60 more for every bag of Topcem Cement they buy.
Retail price of a bag of Topcem Cement in Assam ranged between Rs 390 to Rs 420, while the price was Rs 440 to 450 in Meghalaya.
While Topcem Cement has been extracting huge quantity of limestone from the South Khliehjri Limestone mine in East Jaintia hills, the local people of Meghalaya are not getting any dividend.
While large-scale extraction of limestone by Topcem Cement from the South Khliehjri Limestone mine has long term brunt on the ecology of East Jaintia hills district, the local tribal population have not been compensated for it.
Even after enjoying all the benefits under the North East Industrial & Investment Promotion Policy (NEIIPP), Topcem Cement is charging ‘extra money’ for sale of every bag in Meghalaya.
Meanwhile, the Khliehriat unit of Jaintia Students Union (JSU) has taken serious note on the price disparity of Topcem Cement in Assam and Meghalaya.
The JSU members urged the Meghalaya government to take cognizance of the price disparity of Topcem Cement, and have demanded for immediate actions.