Amid rising tensions, BJP leader and Rajya Sabha MP Subramaniam Swamy has urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to ban the import of cement from Pakistan in the interest of domestic industry and national security.
“I urge you to ban the import of cement in the country, not only in the interest of development and maintenance of the local cement industry, but also in the interest of national security. Banning imports from Pakistan will be in the interest of the country’s security.” Said.
He said that import of cement without imposition of customs duty was done in 2007 to increase supply keeping in view the high demand.
He said since then the situation has changed and a lot of capacity has been added to the local industry which is not being utilized, with about 116 million tonnes of cement capacity inactive due to stagnant demand in the country.
He also cited reports of recovery of drugs like heroin and counterfeit Indian currency notes hidden in cement bags imported from Pakistan.
“So allowing cement to be imported from Pakistan, it keeps up with the additional risks in that it provides effective cover for the smuggling of harmful weapons and ammunition prohibited goods hidden in cement bags in racks and trucks in the hands of disruptive elements,” he said.
The BJP leader said that today the capacity utilization in the industry is less than 100 per cent, while units in South India also post low capacity utilization. He further said that the capital investment of over Rs 90,000 crore required for the construction of this capacity has been stalled.
“India has become a dumping ground for imported cement, especially from Pakistan, China and Bangladesh. It is strange that Pakistan continues to bother us on every front. India continues to allow duty free import of cement from Pakistan at Indian prices. Cement industry,” he said. He said.
The BJP leader said there is a structure of reverse charge duty as the material required for cement production attracts import duty while not the finished product.