Pit sand and weathered sand being used

Even as the Revenue Department is steadfastly moving ahead with its crackdown on illegal sand-mining and trade, lobbies distributing impure and adulterated sand in the rural areas of Kozhikode are thriving on instant profits.

The distribution of weathered sand and poor quality pit sand was on the rise as people’s hunt for sand was proving to be increasingly difficult due to scarcity and soaring prices.

A major portion of the weathered sand, made from a special kind of rock, was supplied to clients outside the district for the large-scale construction of commercial buildings and flats. Non-resident Keralites in rural areas were also the victims of this trickery as they largely depended on the service of other builders for construction purposes, sources said.

Currently, nine such illegal units were functioning under the Thamarassery police station limits.

Though the Thamarassery police could temporarily stop the functioning of the units nearly six months ago under the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act, the traders resumed the works after challenging the police action in the court.

“The weathered sand, once drenched, cannot be distinguished from original sand. The product — altered in colour, texture, and composition — exactly resembles pure sand and the traders thus easily pocket sums between Rs.8,000 and 10,000 per load,” says P. Biju Raj, Circle Inspector, Thamarassery.

The sand is made out of a special kind of rock and this is not permitted under the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act, he said.

Police officers, who had earlier stopped the operation of such units in their area, said the trade had grown beyond their control. “They are now operating with the support of a favourable court verdict against the police action under the Mines and Minerals Act,” an officer said.

The rural areas of Perambra, Kuttiyadi, Koduvally, and Balussery too had active dealers. Official reports and complaints by local people had been promptly handed over to top Revenue officials, sources said.

Unscientifically processed pit sand too was also in circulation.

In the absence of a proper monitoring mechanism, even salty pit sand was being supplied to buyers.

Iringal near Vadakara is one such overexploited hubs in the district, sources familiar with the trade said.

“Pit sand is good for construction if it is scientifically treated. The untreated product will certainly harm the concrete structures,” said A. Achyuthan, environmentalist.

The humus inside such crude sand can gradually create air pockets in the structures and later pave way for their fast destruction,” he said.

  • Nine illegal units at Thamarassery alone

  • Proper monitoring mechanism sought