The flood-threatening swollen rivers have hit the real estate market, jacking up the prices of construction material.
Flooding of kilns along the Ganga banks near Patna City and Maner, and sand mining areas along Sone has triggered a sudden surge in prices of bricks and sand. The price of a tractor load of Ganga sand has increased by around Rs 500 and that of the Sone sand has shot up by around Rs 400. The cost of a brick has surged by Rs 1 to Rs 1.5 owing to the increase in the water level.
“Bricks in Patna mainly come from kilns along the Ganga banks at Sherpur (near Maner) and from a few at Patna City. Most kilns are flooded for over a month now. Owing to lack of production, there is a shortage of bricks in the market. Similarly, all sand mining areas along the banks of the Ganga and Sone are submerged for quite some time. The shortage of supply has prompted the increase in prices of construction material,” said Sachin Chandra, chairperson, Bihar chapter, Builders’ Association of India.
Traders of construction material admitted to the rise in prices because of the flood. “The price of a tractor load of bricks (1,500) coming from Sherpur has increased from Rs 7,000 to Rs 8,000 on an average and even to Rs 9,000 at some places. There is no fresh supply of Ganga sand in the market. Whatever is being sold now is from the existing stock. The price of a tractor load of Ganga sand has increased from Rs 400 to Rs 1,000. Though the price of Ganga sand has soared, suppliers are providing only 100 cubic feet of sand in a tractor against the earlier 150,” said Anil Kumar, the owner of Om Sai Traders on Ashiana-Digha road.
Ganga sand is white and is mostly used for ground filling to make foundation of houses. Sone sand is red. It is mixed with cement and used for construction of walls, pillars, roofs and others.
The traders claimed that brick prices were expected to come down by January 2014. “While supply of sand can resume after the water level in the rivers recedes, the supply of bricks is expected to resume a bit late, as the kilns have been damaged or destroyed by floodwater. We are expecting fresh supply of bricks in the market by January next year,” said Naresh Kumar, the owner of Panchdev Enterprises on Ashiana-Digha road.
The inflow of cement and stone chips has been marginally affected because commercial operations are on hold at the inland water terminal at Gai Ghat owing to high current in the Ganga. “Several ferries transporting construction material like stone chips and cement from Bengal to Patna have anchored at Farakka. It is extremely difficult to operate ships from Bengal to Patna when the river is flooded because they move against the current. Even if they set sail, the speed would be slow. As a result, there would be an increase in fuel consumption. It would have a cascading effect on construction cost,” said Gurmukh Singh, director, Inland Waterways Authority of India, Patna.
A receding trend was observed in the level of Ganga on Thursday. A similar trend has been forecast for Friday.