Four quarries in Cuddalore and Villupuram have been approved; Two in Tiruvallur likely to be approved next week
With the Public Works Department planning to open more quarries in Tiruvallur, Villupuram and Cuddalore in a couple of weeks, contractors and builders hope that sand will be freely available. The sand shortage has led to delay in government projects in Chennai.
The department expects the crisis to ease as the State Environmental Impact Assessment Authority (SEIAA) has approved four quarries in Cuddalore and Villupuram. It is also awaiting SEIAA’s approval for two quarries in Tiruvallur, which may be given next week.
At present, sand seized from two unlicensed yards in Palayaseevaram near Walajabad and Kallapiranpuram near Madurantakam is being supplied for the city’s needs.
Officials of PWD said that sand mining was banned in Kancheepuram district in November leading to a steep rise in sand prices. The Kancheepuram district collectorate has not sanctioned permission for new quarries. The stock at the unlicensed yards would last for another month. “We are giving priority to contractors of government projects. We have also decided to give preference to those who bring a letter from Builders Association of India,” said an official.
Despite measures being taken to make sand available, a number of infrastructure development works are yet to take off.
According to sources in Chennai Corporation, construction and renovation of 43 structures, including schools, hospitals, laboratories, heritage buildings, electric crematorium and bridges are underway apart from footpaths and roads.
Contractors, who are executing government work such as construction of bridges and laying of roads, say that the non-availability of sand has also led to delay in projects. “It takes an entire day to get just one load of sand, which will be enough for one day,” said a Corporation contractor.
A long-time contractor of State Highways said that their units were functioning at only 50 per cent of their capacity. “Every week, our concrete turnout is 6,000 cubic metres, which requires 4,000 cubic metres of sand. We depend on manufactured sand from Vellore for our works despite the high cost of transportation. If sand and earth are in short supply, we will have no other go but to wind up operations,” he said.
N. Loganathan, secretary of the Tamil Nadu PWD Engineering Contractors Association, said that though the government sold sand at Rs. 32- 33 per cubic feet, private lorries were selling sand at more than double that rate.
(With inputs from K. Lakshmi, Aloysius Xavier Lopez and Deepa H. Ramakrishnan)