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Sand miners rush to riverbed

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MINING: Last minute rush to quarry sand at the Cauvery river bed near K. Pettai in Karur district.
MINING: Last minute rush to quarry sand at the Cauvery river bed near K. Pettai in Karur district.

L. Renganathan

Before water is released from the Mettur Dam today

KARUR: Eleventh hour rush has come to haunt the River Cauvery in Karur district as long rows of lorries pile up not only on the riverbed but also on the roadside between Karur and Kulithalai stretch of the National Highway 67 putting to trouble road users and other motorists. The lorries are trying to cart off as much sand as possible before water is released from the Mettur Dam on Monday.

It is exactly not a sight to behold as numerous lorries crisscross the sandy reaches and proceed deep into the river and get loaded with sand quarried albeit by the Public Works Department (PWD) authorities. Officially, sand is quarried in the Cauvery riverbed at Vadhiyam, Thimmachipuram, Vangal and Achamapuram while in the River Amaravathy, officials have been scouting to locate sand quarries in as many places as possible.

Since only a meagre quantum of water trickles down the river now, it has been easy work for the miners and lorry crew. But after June 14 when water is expected to gush down at the rate of around 15,000 cusecs, the miners would be hard pressed to quarry sand. Since most of the sand quarried here is carted away to Coimbatore and Tirupur especially, construction activities in those places and elsewhere would be put to great strain.

Already the industry is faced with a mounting demand for sand as the availability has come down these past few days. After the DMK Government took charge, the PWD has been vested with the responsibility to load the lorries, dispensing with the previous contractor. As the responsibility now solely lay with the PWD, screws have been tightened to ensure that only the prescribed quantum, amounting to two units a lorry, is loaded.

Previously rampant overloading meant that fewer vehicles could convey the quarried sand to sales points or second sales depots as the case may be. But now, with just the prescribed quantum being made available to lorries, paradoxically more number of lorries are plying the roads making life more difficult for the bus drivers operating in the sector and other motorists.

There was the problem of the lorry crew finding some difficulty in getting the demand drafts in favour of the PWD. Now a local bigwig is said to be playing a key role in arranging for the DD facility right at the PWD quarries, of course for some commission. Though that reduces the waiting time for the lorries near the quarries, the more number of lorries present a repugnant sight at the riverbed. That means, despite change of Government, nothing has changed on the riverbed as far as sand quarrying in Karur is concerned.

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