Sand loading has come down by 70 per cent in the district
Sand price has gone up steeply in Tiruchi following the closure of six quarries in the district as per the directive of the Madras High Court. Of the 11 quarries that were functioning on the Cauvery and Coleroon rivers in the district, four quarries which were more than five years old, have been closed. Public Works Department has decided to close two others too in order to certain seek legal clarifications.
Currently quarries are functioning only at Kondayampettai and Killikoodu on the Coleroon river and at Manamedu, Avoor and Sirugamani on the Cauvery river in the district.
With all seven quarries in neighbouring Karur district too closed, there has been a heavy rush of lorries at the quarries that are currently functional here.
According to sources in the PWD, sand loading has come down by 70 per cent from the normal loading of about 4,000 lorries a day in the district.
With hundreds of lorries from Coimbatore, Salem, Tirupur and Erode, apart from Tiruchi, converging here, long queues are witnessed near the quarries and the highways. A large number of lorries from other districts could be seen parked on a huge ground near Ariyamangalam along the Tiruchi-Chennai Bypass Road and sent on queue from there. Many of these lorries were also parked along the service lanes of the bypass road causing traffic congestion.
Local sand lorry operators complain of prolonged waiting time at the quarries.
“Normally local lorries used to get at least one load a day; now most of the lorries are waiting for two to three days to get loaded leading to a sharp rise in our operational cost. We have no option but to pass on the burden to the consumer,” said an office bearer of Tiruchi District Sand Lorry Owners Association.
As on Wednesday, four units of sand were being sold at Rs.7,000 in Tiruchi. Till Saturday, the same quantity was sold at Rs.4,500, he said. The government rate at the quarries is just Rs.624 for two units of sand.
The average demand in the district is around 1,500 lorries every day. But currently, just about 500 lorry loads are available. Sand lorry operators in the district demand that local lorries be accorded priority at the sand quarries.
Builders say that the sharp rise in the price was slowing down construction activity across the district.
“The steep increase in the price of sand will definitely impact on the construction industry, which has to make provisions for an increase in construction cost. The problem should be sorted out and additional quarries should be opened,” says T.V.Murali, vice president, Confederation of Real Estate Developers Association of India (CREDAI), Tiruchi, and chairman of CII, Tiruchi zone.
PWD sources indicated that steps were afoot to get the environment clearance to open up a few quarries in line with the court orders.