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Builders' body seeks PM's help

Our Bureau

New Delhi , Oct. 9

SADDLED with an additional cost burden of Rs 4,500-6,800 crore on account of the spiralling prices of steel, the construction industry on Wednesday sought the Prime Minister's help to insert non-escalation clauses in the contracts with steel companies. The builders are also seeking a removal of non-tariff barriers on steel imports.

In an open letter to the Prime Minister, Mr Atal Bihari Vajpayee, the President of the Construction Federation of India, Mr Ajit Gulabchand, has sought directions to "allow a special relief for existing contracts to compensate for actual price increase which may not be provided for in the escalation clauses".

The letter also seeks removal of non-tariff barriers on steel and a reduction in import duty to zero or five per cent, besides setting up a taskforce to review the price escalation clauses and standardise the same.

Mr Gulabchand, who is also the Chairman and Managing Director of Hindustan Construction Corporation (HCC), said that the Government must intervene to reduce the costs for the construction sector, else "the investment programmes of the Tenth Plan may suffer from time and cost overrun" and the Government may find itself faced with a huge additional burden.

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