The Indian Monopolies and Restrictive Trade Practices Commission has asked its investigative arm DGIR to probe whether cement companies have formed a cartel.
"MRTPC has informed it has referred complaints relating to cartelisation by cement manufacturers to Director General (Investigation and Registration) for investigation," Minister of State for Industry Ashwani Kumar said in a written reply.
Kumar said cement prices increased at varying rates across the country between December 2005 and April 2006 but added prices have stabilised since May 2006.
The average retail price of cement was Rs 157 per bag in March 2004 and Rs 205 per bag in October 2006, he said.
"Cement is a decontrolled commodity and its prices are governed by economic factors like demand and supply, cost of raw materials, fuel and other inputs, production and distribution costs," he said.
He informed the House cement manufacturers had assured that a discount of five per cent on the prevailing prices would be given to central government departments.
Besides, they also assured on maximising production and taking caution against profiteering by retailers, Kumar added.