Sharath S. Srivatsa

Sand lorry owners have been on strike since August 22

Price of fine sand has gone up owing to lack of supply

Coarse sand is also not available, claim contractors

BANGALORE: Construction activity in Bangalore has been affected because of the drastic decline in the supply of sand following the strike by sand lorry owners, which entered the seventh day on Friday.

Works at many construction sites has either come to a standstill, because of lack of availability of sand, or is going slow while most contractors are scrambling for available sand in the black market to ensure that they meet the deadline.

“Most civil works have been stopped during the last three days, as contractors have utilised the stocks that were available. Everyone cannot afford to buy sand in the black market, as it is too expensive,” D. Kempanna, general secretary of the Karnataka State Contractors Association told The Hindu.

Hundreds of lorries that bring sand from places like Kollegal, Hassan, Holenarasipur and other places are on strike since August 22. Lorry owners, affiliated to the Federation of Karnataka Lorry Owners’ Association, are on strike on issues pertaining to permits, royalty and alleged harassment by various departments.

Mr. Kempanna said that those who were under deadline pressure were buying sand from the black market at an exorbitant cost. “Many government works have been affected as contractors cannot afford to buy sand in the black market.” In some cases, contractors have already reduced the labour at the construction sites.

A load of fine sand cost between Rs. 11,000 and Rs. 15,000 earlier and now the price has gone up by Rs. 5,000, where ever it is available. The coarse sand, mostly coming from agricultural fields as filtered sand, is also not available, contractors claim. Though sand was available in small quantities, it was being transported to the construction sites clandestinely during the night, said a contractor who chose to remain anonymous. “Sand is being transported in tractors. As I cannot afford to pay high cost for sand, I have slowed down the work,” he said.

Quarry dust that can be actually used as an alternative to river sand is available in Bangalore, but in lesser quantity, said M. Ramesh, member, Builders’ Association of India. Quarry dust is filtered and processed before using it at the construction activities.

“Besides many developers here do not like to use the quarry dust, which has been certified by the Government. However, developers in Maharashtra and Gujarat use it extensively,” he added.