The Public Works Department (PWD) has decided to auction around 40,000 loads of sand, impounded in Palayaseevaram village of the Kancheepuram district, next week.
In the district, the authorities seized around 55,000 loads in Kallapiranpuram village of Madurantakam Taluk.
The quantities of sand had been stocked in an unauthorised manner and they came to the fore thanks to the intervention of the Madras High Court, which, two months ago, directed the authorities to seize them. Subsequent to the court order, a special team of the government officials carried out a check in Kancheepuram and found that about 95,000 lorry loads of sand had been stocked illegally. [The figure submitted by the district officials to the Court a few months ago was around 44,000 loads.]
Last month, the government suspended the Kancheepuram district collector and some other officials. A week ago, the district administration decided to suspend quarrying for one year.
As per the present plan, the department would auction the stock in Palayaseevaram on November 26. Around 95,000 loads of sand would meet Chennai’s demand for 19 days.
On an average, the city needs 5,000 loads every day. The quarrying sites in Kancheepuram, prior to suspension, were contributing around 1,000 loads a day to Chennai. Even as the officials are planning their next move, there have been reports that an important player in the government-regulated sector of sand quarrying has withdrawn from the field. In the central districts of Tiruchi, Karur and Ariyalur, which have normally been catering to the demand in the central and western districts with the daily supply of about 2,000 loads, operations remained suspended since Tuesday.
Coimbatore, which has been getting the supply from Karur, has not been getting any load for the last two days. A senior official acknowledges that in 24 functioning sand quarries out of a total of 42 in the State, no operations are taking place. M.K. Sundaram, seasoned builder and former chairman of the State chapter of the Builders’ Association of India, says that in the last one week, the price has shot up by about Rs. 8000 per load from Rs. 17,000-Rs.18,000 a few months ago to Rs. 25,000.
A builder from Tirunelveli, S. Ravi, suggests that the system of “second sales” should be dispensed with.
(Inputs from S. Ganesan in Tiruchi, M. Soundariya Preetha in Coimbatore, P. Sudhakar in Tirunelveli and S. Poorvaja in Madurai).