Soaring prices of construction material is not only affecting the construction industry but also the common man. Why the government is unable to crackdown on the construction cartels is beyond understanding. Steel prices have gone up by 59 percent over the past seven months. It is now being sold at a price of Rs 84,000 per ton as compared to Rs 50,000 last year. The decisions made by Engineering Development Board asking the Pakistan Steel Mill to index its prices in line with international market is putting pressure on the steel prices. It is worth pointing out that Pakistan Steel has already increased its prices of billet, bloom, galvanized steel and hot and cold iron-rolled steel. Prices of cement have also been increased by 26 percent as compared to September 07. The results of this increase are devastating. It threatens the job market in construction industry. Hundreds of thousands of development projects, some say worth Rs 200 billion, could be seen unfinished in Punjab alone. Daily wages workers are suffering the most because not only the construction activity in the private sector is slowing down, but the large scale development projects in the public sector are also suffering. -FAROOQ ALI, Islamabad, via e-mail, April 22.