Uncertainty prevails over the distribution of sand that was mined from the Malampuzha dam and now being dumped on the collectorate premises here with no government direction forthcoming yet on its distribution pattern and pricing.
As of now about 200 loads of sand, transported from Palakkad, remains deposited on the collectorate premises. Unless a decision was reached on its distribution, no fresh loads could be stocked on the collectorate premises as the entire available space remains filled up.
“The guidelines were to distribute the sand through Kalavara to the beneficiaries of the EMS Housing Scheme and MN one-lakh housing renovation scheme. But it cannot be distributed without a government order on its pricing and other aspects,” K.N. Raje, Additional District Magistrate, who is holding charge as the District Collector, told The Hindu.
However, the authorities at the Nirmithi Kendra, under which Kalavara that makes available construction materials to the poor sections at reasonable rate operates, said that a final decision was yet to be taken on whether the sand mined from the dam was to be distributed through them. “Initially, we were told that it would be distributed through Kalavara. Besides, it's not clear whether it would be distributed at a reduced rate as charged by us or at a higher price, reflecting its transportation cost from Palakkad,” said C.M. Thushara, Project Engineer at the Nirmithi Kendra.
Usually, Kalavara charges Rs.6,000 a load of sand.
But if the government decides not to exempt the transportation cost, the price would go up steeply undermining the very purpose of Kalavara.
Talking to The Hindu over phone from Thiruvananthapuram, Housing Minister Benoy Viswom, however, said that the price of sand for distribution to the beneficiaries of EMS Housing Scheme and MN one-lakh housing renovation scheme would be uniform, irrespective of whether it was river sand or sand mined from dam.
Ms. Thushara said that Kalavara started distributing sand a year ago with an initial stock of 10 loads of sand at their disposal.
Applications for sand were sought and based on this a list of Below Poverty Line families were drawn up for giving preference in distribution. Families belonging to the Above Poverty Line were also given sand for constructions not exceeding 2,000 sq.ft.
But of late, Kalavara had ceased the distribution and sale of sand after it ran out of stock.
With opening of sand ghats at panchayat level, the local bodies were entrusted with sand distribution, Ms. Thushara said.
About 600 applications for sand were pending with the Nirmithi Kendra as of now. Besides, no fresh applications were accepted either.
“Unless the sand deposited on the collectorate premises was made available, it would not be possible to meet their demand,” she said.
Meanwhile, complaints had been raised about the larger presence of silt in the dam sand which was perceived to affect the quality of the sand.
Sifting of sand to clear it of silt was expected to add to the price of sand. Mr. Viswom, however, did not rule out the possibility of vested interests being behind such complaints to create artificial shortage and exploit the situation.