Retail trade of construction material: Govt mulls action as dealers fleece consumers, charge exorbitant rates

By: Arshad Dijoo

Srinagar: The Jammu and Kashmir government is mulling to streamline the retail trade pertaining to selling of construction material to consumers in small quantities.

As the selling price of truckloads of construction materials is somewhat monitored, it has been learnt that the small businessmen, who retail out and do petty business of construction material, are fleecing consumers by arbitrarily fixing prices per square feet on their will, which sans any market intervention.

Reports reaching Precious Kashmir, said that the traders involved in retail trade of construction materials are earning “huge margins” of profit in this “unregulated” trade.

As per official sources, Chief Secretary J&K Arun Kumar Mehta recently in a meeting of officers has taken a “strong exception” to this reported “unfair trade practice” whereby innumerous gullible consumers, who purchase building material in retail from small kiosks are fleeced and charged arbitrarily amounting to tens of times of the original cost.

As such, directions have been passed to the Divisional Administration and line departments to learn the market trends by conducting spot surveys and work out a calculus so that this section of trade is “regulated” henceforth.

“A common man, who needs a certain number of bags of sand and bajri or bricks for repairs at his home or for any little construction purpose, has to pay through nose to small time retailers, who sell these items at a cost some “fifty times” higher than they obtain themselves in a truckload,” officials said.

“If a truck load of sand of 200 square feet costs around Rs 6,500 to 7,000 for a retailer, he sells it in fragments for around Rs 16,000 to the customers, thereby earning a huge undue margin and fleecing the needy consumers,” an official, explained on the conditions of anonymity.

The government wants to regulate this sector of building material retail trade so that undue profiteering is stopped henceforth and such tradesmen are “reigned in”, the official said.

“It is a huge sector of unregulated trade whereby these building material kiosks on roadside sell construction material much dearer to the original cost as per truckloads. As people quite often need construction material in small quantities, these retail dealers earn huge profits by selling the material dearer to us and nobody is even able to argue. The rates are set by retail dealers themselves at their will,” said Ghulam Qadir Sumji of Eidgah Srinagar, who was seen transporting a load carrier with sand and bajri for some renovation work at his home.

Officials from Geology and Mining department and Meteorological department are being roped in “to give a fair calculus” and help set “certain benchmarks” by which the construction material retail trade be regulated by the authorities, the officials said.

An exercise in this respect is being conducted by the concerned officers whereby divisional administration is able to gauge the market trends and “streamline” it for the benefit of consumers.

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