Eastern India leads the growth in regional cement consumption for the period April 2004 to February 2005, registering a 15.6 per cent year-on-year (Y-o-Y) increase to 18.1Mt. Delhi also clocked a 13 per cent growth to 3.4Mt, even as the whole of the northern region managed a growth of only 6.2 per cent to 21.9Mt, according to Cement Manufacturers’ Association (CMA). Industry observers opine that by and large, over the past 10 years, the northern and eastern markets have been growing fast. At the same time, it was pointed out that the growth in eastern markets this time, could be on a small base – two per cent Y-o-Y growth in the previous period. Moreover, Bihar for instance, which saw a decline in the previous period grew by over 15 per cent this time. ACC executive director-marketing AK Jain told FE, "The elections in Bihar and Jharkhand could have triggered additional developmental work in those states." ACC has a pan-Indian presence in cement.
Gujarat posted a growth of 10.1 per cent to 8.1Mt, while its neighbour Maharashtra, posted a seven per cent growth, in line with the national average. A cement analyst with a leading Mumbai-based brokerage firm pointed out, "Gujarat has been the fastest growing state in the country over the past few years. Moreover, it was plagued by natural calamities like earthquakes and floods in the recent past, which required reconstruction." He added that the growth in Delhi was on account of many construction projects currently underway and may slowdown a bit after that. Mr Jain attributed the growth in the Delhi market to construction activities like metro railway and expects the trend to continue. Interestingly, the southern market, which saw a heavy degrowth of about 10 per cent in the first two quarters of 2004-05, has improved in the latter half, according to industry sources. Thus, for April-February 2005 period, the region posted a 1.2 per cent decline. (abstracted from Financial Times, India).