As per the policy, the PWD will extract sand and directly auction it

The State government should scrap the proposal to hand over the process of sand mining to the Public Works Department (PWD) because “it is impractical” and “it would raise prices”, said several groups of those engaged in sand mining and transport here on Friday.

This view was expressed at a joint press conference held by the Joint Action Committee of sand contractors, sand boat owners, workers, and building material transporters (JAC), the Sand Transporting Lorry Owners' Association (STLOA), and the Dakshina Kannada District Sand Boat Owners and Workers' Association. JAC president Mayur Ullal said despite the exclusion of the three coastal districts from the Sand Policy-2011, the PWD recently called for bids.

Mr. Ullal said all three groups were opposed to the move of the PWD. They threatened action if the government did not formulate separate guidelines for the coastal districts soon.

According to the sand policy, the PWD would extract sand across the State (except for the coastal districts) and directly auction it to buyers. However, in coastal districts, it was private sand miners who were given mining licences to extract sand and then directly sell it to buyers after paying royalty to the government.

Mr. Ullal said the policy adopted for the rest of the State was not amenable to the coastal districts for “traditional” (manual extraction by diving into the river) as well as “geographical” reasons.

Asked why the miners could not extract sand manually and then allow the PWD to auction it, he said it would push up the price for buyers and that the PWD system was “impractical”.

When the proposal to install GPS devices in lorries was first mooted to control illegal transportation of sand to Kerala, the then Deputy Commissioner V. Ponnuraj had said that while a load of sand was locally sold at Rs. 2,000, the same load fetched Rs. 20,000 in Kerala. Asked about illegal transportation of sand to Kerala, Mr. Ullal denied it and added if anyone was caught crossing the border with sand, appropriate action should be taken against them.

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