Cement brands like Lucky, Maple Leaf and Elephant from Pakistan are helping the construction companies in the south to check prices, albeit to a limited extent.
But the companies are not sure of the supply due to weak rupee. For long it was considered that Pakistani cement will enter only parts of western India. This is the first time the cement market in south is getting exposed to cement from the neighbouring nation.
The imports have more or less stopped.
"The weakening of the rupee from Rs39 to 43 coupled with higher freight costs has made imported cement a little costlier. And local manufacturers in south have also reduced prices. Today, if we need to import cement the cost in Chennai for a 50kg bag would be Rs245 or Rs 50 which is more or less the price at which Coromandel Cement or Ramco is available in the market," an importer said.
Capt George Thomas, joint secretary, Kerala Cement Dealers Association, told TOI from Ernakulam that some 500t of cement enter the Kochi port from Karachi.
"We get only Lucky brand here. After all taxes, the landed cost for us is Rs250 for a 50kg bag of ordinary portland cement (OPC) as against local manufacturer’s Rs265 a bag of portland pozzalona cement (PPC). The quality of Pakistani cement is very good, but the problem is that supplies are limited," he said.
Sri Raja of Sivaraja Impex, a cement importer in Chennai, said that around 1000 containers of cement came to Chennai and around 1500 containers landed in Tuticorin. Each container can hold 500 bags of cement, each weighing 50kg. A CEO of a large construction company also said he was getting Pakistani cement in Chennai at a price which was at least Rs10 lower a bag.