HC orders moratorium on use of heavy machines for sand mining

The suspension of the use of heavy machines for sand quarrying from the Cauvery River over the past few days has hit the construction industry in Tiruchi district.

The Public Works Department (PWD) halted the use of heavy machines for sand quarrying in the Cauvery in the last week of December. PWD sources here cited the directives issued by the Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court, while passing orders on a batch of public interest litigations recently, as the reason for the move.

Following this, sand quarrying has come to a standstill in all the six quarries that were functioning on the Cauvery River in Tiruchi and Karur districts.

Over 2,500 lorry loads of sand were transported from the quarries everyday to various destinations across the State, including Coimbatore and Chennai.

Even before this, demand had gone up manifold leading to a rise in price. Even in Tiruchi, the price of sand had touched Rs.4,000 for four units from the earlier price of Rs.3,600.

Truck operators engaged in transporting sand are reportedly not in favour of manual loading at the quarries.

It was contended that this could prove to be a laborious process and the number of loads taken would come down drastically.

The district sand lorry operators have already threatened to go on strike, claiming that hundreds of people have been rendered jobless owing to the PWD decision.

Office bearers of the district sand lorry operators association said even before the use of heavy machinery was stopped, the number of trips operated by a lorry had come down to just one a day as there was a huge demand and lorries from other parts of the State were queuing up at the quarries for loading.

“Construction activity in the city has almost come to a standstill as sand is vital raw material for the industry.

Almost 90 per cent of our works have stopped, as only those with some stocks are able to continue construction. Construction labourers have also been hit hard as we cannot give them any other work,” said V.Gopinathan, president, Confederation of Real Estate Promoters Associations of India (CREDAI), Tiruchi. “Supply of sand has completely stopped over the past few days.

Since we cannot store sand, most projects have been affected,” said M.V.Maruthachalam, a flat promoter and valuer in the city.

  • Over 2,500 lorry loads of sand used to be transported from quarries everyday
  • Price of four units of sand had touched Rs.4,000 in the district