SRINAGAR — Amid COVID-19 pandemic, the brick kiln owners have resorted to price hike in Kashmir Valley as one Tipper load of bricks costs around Rs 30,000 as against the original price of 18,000 per 3,000 bricks.
Locals said that the brick kiln owners have been selling bricks at exorbitant rates and they are selling “B Grade” bricks as “A Grade” at a price of around Rs 30,000 per 3000 bricks.
They said that the normal price which was fixed by the government was Rs 18,000 per 3000 bricks i.e. one Tipper load but the brick kiln owners are selling the same now at Rs 30,000 to Rs 33,000.
Malik Javid, a local from Budgam village said that brick prices are skyrocketing and common people can’t even afford to buy bricks at such exorbitant rates. “A Tipper load i.e. 3000 bricks would cost Rs 18,000 before COVID-19 pandemic but now the same is being sold at more than Rs 30,000 which is in violation of the government fixed rates,” he said.
Meanwhile, the brick kiln owners said that they have suffered huge losses from the last two years and due to COVID-19, they couldn’t make their brick kilns operational but had to pay the laborers their dues for no work.
They said that they operate their kilns on rented space and have to pay them in any situation.
A brick kiln owner from Budgam, who wished anonymity, said that as administration is busy with COVID-19, some brick kiln owners have huge stock available with them but they are deliberately creating scarcity to make money.
He said that the official rate per 3000 bricks is only Rs 18,000 but some brick kiln owners are taking undue advantage of the lockdown and have started robbing people by selling a Tipper load of bricks at more than Rs 30,000.
He also said that a brick kiln owner can make up for the loss by increasing the amount by Rs. 4,000 but not to Rs 30,000 per 3000 bricks.
Meanwhile, district magistrate Budgam has warned the owners not to indulge in unfair trade practices and overcharging.
In an order, he said that strict action as warranted under law shall be initiated against those culprits found involved in charging exorbitant rates for construction materials like bricks, sand, stones and other related material.