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Cartel smear on cement wall

New Delhi, Dec. 20: More than 40 cement firms have been held guilty of unfair trade practices by MRTPC, the anti-monopoly watchdog.

Big names featuring on the list of culprits include ACC, Birla Cement, Grasim, L&T, India Cements, Madras Cements, Shree Cement and Dalmia Cement.

The Monopolies and Restrictive Trade Practices Commission is also investigating the role of the Cement Manufacturers’ Association (CMA) in fixing prices.

Passing a cease and desist order, a three-member MRTPC bench, comprising Justice . P. Dwivedi, M.M.K. Sardana and D.C. Gupta, directed the companies not to indulge in any such arrangement directly or through the CMA.

“In the present case, we have found direct as well as indirect evidence of concert. The existence of a common platform in the form of respondent No. 1 (CMA), which frequently reviews the price situation is a strong pointer towards the existence of a cartel,” the commission said.

“Admittedly, respondent No. 1 has been fixing prices during the control regime. The same apparatus continues even now without any change. In this scenario, the simultaneous and frequent rise in prices by the respondents, although within a narrow band, would clearly indicate that the respondents acted in a concert,” the commission said slamming the CMA.

Responding to the MRTPC move, the government today said it would look into the matter.

“Cartelisation affects consumers, we will look into it,” Union minister of commerce and industry Kamal Nath said.

Reacting to the order, CMA president H. M. Bangur said, “We will respect the commission’s decision and our future course of action will be decided after going through the order.”

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