March 24: Billions of rupees spent on import of clinker has been saved due to the increase in domestic production of the raw material of cement.
Data from the Department of Customs shows that Rs 11 billion was spent for the import of clinker four years ago. The latest data shows that the import of clinker has come almost to a halt.
According to the department, clinker worth only Rs 19,000 has been imported in the last eight months (July-February) of the current fiscal year. Clinker was imported only once during this period.
According to the department, in the first month of the last fiscal year, clinker worth Rs 34.3 million was imported in July. In the last fiscal year, clinker worth Rs 321.5 million was imported.
Clinker is the raw material of cement. Now the country has become self-reliant on clinker and cement. Some industries are also exporting both these items to India.
Palpa and Arghakhanchi cement industries are exporting these products as clinker and cement is produced more than the domestic requirement.
Tara Prasad Pokharel, vice president of the Nepal Cement Producers Association, said that there has been a problem in the sale of clinker recently due to the low consumption of cement in the country.
"In normal conditions, that is during the season of infrastructure construction, clinker consumption used to be about 80 per cent, now it has dropped to about 30 per cent," Pokharel told New Business Age.
According to the association, there are currently 16 industries that produce clinker. These industries produce 40,000 metric tons of clinker daily. Pokharel said that the production capacity has been reduced after the cement consumption decreased.
Rajesh Kumar Agarwal, executive director of RMC Group, which produces cement under the Palpa brand, said that the demand for cement has decreased due to the low capital expenditure of the state, which has affected development and construction.
Cement produced by RMC Group has been exported since last June. According to Agarwal, now clinker is also exported.
Pashupati Murarka, the owner of Arghakhanchi Cement Industry, also informed that his industry has started exporting clinker.
"Clinker import has dropped to zero in a short time," said Murarka, "Arghakhanchi and Palpa cement industries have so far exported 30,000 metric tons of clinker and cement to India."
"There was a situation in the past when imported clinker was expensive, but limestone, the raw material in the country, was not used," Murarka said. According to the association, Rs 3 trillion have been invested in the cement industry so far.
After the earthquake of 2015, when the reconstruction work intensified, the demand for cement increased suddenly. After that, domestic and foreign investment in the cement industry increased. According to the association, there are currently about five dozen cement industries operating in Nepal. The annual production capacity of this industry is 25 million metric tons. As the demand was less than the production capacity, the producers had been demanding the government to facilitate the export to India. With the government implementing the program announced in the budget to give cash subsidies to exports, industrialists have started exporting cement and clinker.