Sand lorry owners urge CM to open new quarries

Following the orders of the National Green Tribunal (NGT), about 70 quarries in the State were shut down on Wednesday and this might lead to shortage of sand and spiralling of its prices.

According to the Tamil Nadu Sand Lorry Owners Federation (TNSLOF) president, Sella Rajamani, as of now only 22 quarries are functioning in the State — 18 in Tiruchi, two each in Madurai and Chennai region. Chennai city needs 8,000 loads of sand per day for construction work, while it gets about 6,000 loads.

For the State the total shortage is close to 20,000 loads per day.

Recently, NGT had directed the State government to close down quarries that have been functioning for more than five years. Currently, a unit of sand is sold for Rs. 3,500.

The State government can open new quarries, adjacent to the existing ones, after getting permission from State Environment Impact Assessment Authority, sources said.

Long wait

“The closure of quarries has forced the buyers to zero in on the existing ones. The lorry drivers have to wait for nearly three to five days to pick up one load (three units) of sand. Each lorry can carry up to three units of sand, equivalent to 12 tonnes. If the same situation continues, the buyers have to pay extra charges per load. Besides, the escalation would result in sand shortage, suspension of infrastructure work and loss of jobs for over one lakh lorry drivers in the State,” Mr. Rajamani said.

To tide over the shortage, the Federation members have urged Chief Minister Jayalalithaa to open new quarries in the State so that each lorry can get at least three units of sand per day.

Strike call condemned

While condemning a strike call given by S. Yuvraj of Chennai Aminjikarai Sand Lorry Owners Society protesting against the irregularities occurring in government-owned sand quarries, he said lorries belonging to his Federation would ply from Monday as usual.

Briefing reporters here on Thursday, he said the strike call was given by Mr. Yuvraj in his individual capacity and he has nothing to do with the Federation.

The announcement was made by him without consulting the Federation or its members.

“The State government has been initiating action against district administrations for failing to curb illegal sand mining. An announcement by Mr. Yuvraj at this juncture is aimed at confusing the people and creating a bad name for the State government,” he said.

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