Construction activity likely to come to a halt; sand may not be available even if one is ready to pay twice the cost

The strike by sand transporters in the State is likely to affect construction work completely from Wednesday. While a section of sand transporters went ahead with their strike from Sunday midnight, the other faction declared on Monday that they would stop sand transportation from Wednesday.

The transporters are protesting against alleged harassment by government agencies. A direction by the Mines and Geology Department to the respective district sand monitoring committees to impose a maximum fine of up to Rs. 1 lakh on those transporting sand illegally has precipitated the matter.

Grouses

It is estimated that Bangalore requires about 3,000 lorry loads of river sand every day, while an equal quantity is consumed by the rest of the State.

“The new sand policy has not only caused shortage of sand, but also has also affected sand transporters. The government, that has taken over supply of sand, has been able to meet only 10 per cent of the demand,” president of Federation of Karnataka Lorry Owners’ Association B. Chenna Reddy told presspersons here on Monday, while announcing that they would also join the strike from Wednesday.

The government on the one hand is unable to supply the requisite quantity of sand and on the other is attempting to impose heavy fine and criminal cases on those transporting sand from other sources, he added.

The other faction of sand transporters — Federation of Karnataka State Lorry Owners and Agents’ Association led by G.R. Shanmugappa, has already stopped sand supply.

Shortage

The strike is likely to impact the construction industry, as the cost of sand is expected to go up steeply or there would be no sand available.

Not only that, the industry fears proliferation of filter sand, which has emerged as a mafia around Bangalore.

“The demand-supply gap is already huge and the price of sand has been increasing since April. But now with the strike, sand may not be available even if one pays twice the cost,” said M. Ramesh, member of Builders’ Association of India, National Managing Committee.

Nearly double

According to him, the cost per cubic feet of sand was between Rs. 85 and Rs. 100 just before the strike started, up from about Rs. 50 in April. “This increase was due to scarcity of sand in the market. The strike will further affect the industry and could lead to entry of filter sand.”

Ready for it

He, however, said that big developers and contractors would have stocked enough sand as the strike was known much in advance, but it would impact individual house builders. “If the strike prolongs, it could impact big builders too.”