Prices may touch Rs. 7,500 per 10 tonnes of sand, from the current Rs. 3,500

With the implementation of the new sand policy in the near future, officials and sand miners believe that the reduced number of blocks on offer — considering restrictions on mining in CRZ (Coastal Regulatory Zone) areas — and the restrictions on transport may lead to doubling of the rates of sand here.

However, though the sand policy was notified in December, it might be another six months before the district will be able to implement it, said officials from the Department of Mines and Geology.

Protection of CRZ

Sand extraction is conducted in most major rivers in the district, including Gurupura, Kumaradhara, Nethravati, Payaswini, among others. In all, 1,500 tonnes of sand is extracted everyday.

A major aspect of the new sand mining policy is the protection of CRZ areas, wherein, any block in the CRZ area must be approved by the Ministry of Environment and Forests (above 50-hectare block), or State Environmental Impact Assessment Authority (below 50 hectares).

“With many areas of the district under the CRZ norms, the output available after the policy is enforced may be lesser,” said Somashekhar, Deputy Director, district Mines and Geology Department.

Single loading point

While this implies lesser sand extraction, K.A. Shekabba, Honorary president of Sand Contractors and Lorry Owners Association, said new rules about single loading points would also impact prices.

Now, he said, sand was directly loaded onto trucks at numerous makeshift docks. “The new rules will enforce one loading point for every six kilometres. We have to present a demand draft for the quanta of sand we want to take. This will lower the trips per day of trucks,” said Mr. Shekabba.

While one truck transports sand in four trips between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m., the policy may result in a truck doing just two trips because of long queues or delays in obtaining DDs. “This is the experience from Mysore and Hassan districts where this is being followed. As owners have to make just two trips, they will hike the rental rates to make it economical for them,” he said.

He believed that rates may touch Rs. 7,500 per 10 tonnes of sand, instead of the current Rs. 3,500.

The prices will be transferred to builders, who say that the ultimate cost will hit those who are either building their houses or buying an apartment.

In the process

However, implementing the sand policy will take at least six months.

“We have to send quarry report, environment management plans and environment clearances to the MoEF. This will take time,” said Mr. Somashekhar.

Until then, temporary three-month permits are given. While, the department has issued more than 80 permits so far, the total may cross 100 permits before the deadline next week.

With numerous rivers dotting the district, and only one district centre based out of Mangalore, it would be “difficult” to curtail illegal sand extraction even with 10 more geologists, said officials at the Mines and Geology Department .

The blocks will be identified by taluk committees which have been formed comprising officials of the Karnataka State Pollution Control Board, Mines and Geology department, Revenue Department, and Public Works Department.

More In: Mangaluru