Following disposal of seized sand, demand in city has gone up

The rising price of river sand over the past two weeks and the threat of severe shortage in Chennai and its neighbourhood is likely to stabilise in a few days.

The Water Resources Department (WRD) will open ten sand quarries in various places to meet the growing demand.

Following the disposal of sand seized from unlicensed stock yards in Madurantakam two weeks ago, the demand for sand in the city has gone up. The price too has gone up from Rs. 50 per cubic foot to Rs. 60-65 per cubic foot owing to the shortage. According to builders and sand lorry owners, only about 2,000 loads of sand is available every day against the demand of 7,000 loads.

This has slowed down many construction projects across the city.

In a bid to control the escalating sand cost, the WRD will open sand quarries in Tiruvallur, Villupuram and Cuddalore by this weekend.

Officials of the WRD said two quarries would be ready in Tiruvallur and four more would come up in Cuddalore and Villupuram districts. At present, the sand requirement of city and its neighbourhood is being met by two quarries in Perungalmedu and Tirumalaicheri in the Arcot region. This is not adequate, say officials.

“We want to bring down the cost of a load of sand of 200 cubic feet to Rs. 7,000-Rs. 8,000. We expect more quarries to cut down the delay in the commodity reaching the consumers,” said an official. Until the ban on sand mining in riverbeds is relaxed in Kancheepuram district, quarries could not be opened there, he added.

Sand lorry owners said that as sand loads sourced from Arcot were insufficient to meet the city’s demand, they travel up to Tiruchi and Thanjavur. “PWD sells the sand for Rs. 800 per load. But we have to take loads from the stockyards of the private contractors. We pay Rs. 3,000- Rs. 4,000 per load and wait for 4-5 days to get a load. We don’t have a choice but to transfer the burden on consumers due to mounting expenditure,” said S. Yuvaraj, president of Tamil Nadu State Sand Lorry Owners Federation.

Members of the Federation recalled that sand was being supplied from 16 quarries in the Chennai region about two years ago.

“PWD must initiate direct selling of sand to regulate the prices and open quarries soon. We plan to protest on March 7 in Kancheepuram to press these demands,” said Mr. Yuvaraj.