The sanction was withdrawn sometime ago
The Forest Department has got the green signal from the State government for the revival of mining and sale of sand from the courses of the Kulathupuzha River coming under the Kulathupuzha Forest Range. The sale of sand will be exclusively for residential purposes.
Sand from the river, which were earlier sold through the Kalavara set up under the management of the Nirmrithi Kendra, was withdrawn sometime ago following allegations of misuse of the facility.
At that time, the sand was sold at separate rates for BPL and APL category applicants.
The withdrawal was after the department came to know that a good portion of the BPL allocations were siphoned away and sold in the black market at higher rates to civil contractors.
This time, there will be no category differentiation but each applicant will be given only two truck loads of sand (a load is 5 cubic metre).
The price fixed for each truck load of sand, exclusive of freight rate, is Rs.13,000. The decision comes as a boon to the common man, especially in Kollam and Thiruvananthapuram districts, engaged in constructing houses for themselves.
It is at the initiative of Forests Minister K.B. Ganesh Kumar that the proposal has been submitted to the government but he has warned that any complaints about abuse of the facility will result in its withdrawal.
The decision to allow sand mining on the river courses was taken to primarily clear the huge quantities of sand that lay accumulated along the Millpaalam and Chozhiyakodu courses of the river inside the forest areas. At some places, the sand deposits were seen even choking the flow of the river for quite a good distance. Due to this, there have been long-standing demands to clear the sand and ensure the smooth flow of the river.
Too much sand
According to the local people, the depth of the river along the Millpaalam and Chozhiyakodu courses, which used to be more that 10 feet in the past during the post monsoon period, was less than 10 inches now.
It was in this backdrop that the Forest Department entrusted Nirmrithi Kendra with mining and sale of sand.
The latest notification, however, says the Nirmrithi Kendra will not have any role in the mining.
Instead, the department will do it directly and sell the sand from the mining location, with the active participation of the Vana Samrakshana Samithy.
The rate fixed for a truck load will comprise taxes, labour costs for mining, royalty to the Mining and Geology Department, service charge, and loading charges.
The loading charges will be based on rates fixed by the Labour Department. These rates will be displayed at the Kulathupuzha Forest Range office and at the loading locations.
Applications should be submitted directly to the Kulathupuzha Forest Range Officer, and should include the domestic construction permit certificate issued by the respective local body along with the recognised building plan.
An applicant will be given allocation only once and the same applicant will not be able to apply a second time. The Kulathupuzha range office could be contacted on phone number 0475-2317827.