Sand extraction from rivers in Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) is set to see a break for at least of couple of months as the environment clearance (EC) for the same is expiring on different dates this month and fresh clearance is yet to be obtained by the District Sand Monitoring Committee.
The EC has expired for 12 sand bars, eight in Netravati and four in Phalguni (Gurupura) recently, as a consequence of which sand extraction activities in these areas have stopped completely. While boats used for extraction are brought on the shore, migrant workers staying in temporary sheds have vacated the same, pursuant to directions from the Mines and Geology Department.
The environment clearance for another 10 sand bars would expire by December 26 thus completely bringing to halt sand extraction in CRZ area, according to department officials.
Though the Sand Monitoring Committee had completed all other formalities to obtain fresh EC for sand bars, the crucial bathymetry survey to scientifically identify sand bars for the next season is yet to start. The Committee had deferred the decision to award the survey contract last month citing higher quotes; however Deputy Commissioner Sindhu B. Rupesh, who is also the chairman of the committee, had said the process would be expedited. She told The Hindu the committee was awaiting a report from the Department of Fisheries, which is expected in a couple of days. Thereafter the bathymetry survey would start, she said.
Mayur Ullal, former president, Sand Transporters’ Association, said while the survey takes a month to complete, it has to be cross-verified by experts from National Institute of Technology, Surathkal, that takes another fortnight. Thus, sand extractors and transporters would remain jobless for at least a couple of months, he regretted. By the time EC is issued, it would be summer when the construction industry slows down owing to non-availability of water followed by the monsoon when there would be ban on sand extraction for about three months, he said.
No sand shortage
Notwithstanding the halt for sand extraction from rivers in CRZ, sand will be available at Thumbe stock yard where sand is derived through dredging the backwaters of Netravati at the vented dam.
Though sand from the backwaters was free of salinity, demand for the same had come down after extraction from CRZ area started because the latter was a cheaper. The Mines and Geology Department is handling sand distribution through dksandbazaar portal and app at Thumbe.
Deputy Commissioner Sindhu B. Rupesh told The Hindu that besides Thumbe sand, the administration has got environment clearance for 10 bars in non-CRZ area and hence there should not be any shortage of sand for construction activities.