Vijayawada

Illegal sand mining: Capital works push up demand

The mighty Krishna, which disgorges from the rugged hill ranges of Palnadu and traverses through the deltaic plains before emptying itself into the Bay of Bengal, has not only emerged as a lifeline for the district, but its river bed continues to provide quality sand used in construction.

In earlier days, anyone who required sand would have to apply to the gram panchayat and get a tractor load of sand at a nominal price. All that the customer need to pay was loading charges for labour and some minimum amount for fuel. Later, the Mineral Development Corporation gained control over the sand reaches.

The sand reaches across the river have met the needs of construction industry in Guntur, Krishna, Prakasam and also in Hyderabad since the year 2000. Hundreds of trucks carrying sand used to ply on the national highway and reach Hyderabad before dawn. As the business grew, sand became a precious commodity.

Fight over control

Control of sand reaches soon became a bone of contention between warring political leaders, sometimes forcing the intervention of Chief Ministers. As the demand began increasing, the system of contractors entered. And, sand became big business prompting the government to put in place a system of tenders.

Post-bifurcation, the demand for sand has reached unimaginable heights. The massive construction works taken up in the Capital area by the government and the private builders in Guntur and Vijayawada had created a surge in demand for sand. The sand reaches in Rayapudi, Amaravathi upstream of Prakasam Barrage witnessed a surge in demand.

A truck load of sand which used to be sold for ₹4,000 to ₹5,000 soon spiked to ₹10,000 to ₹15,000. Machines were used to dig deep in the river bed and sand was transported in tractors.

New policy

Chief Minister Y.S Jagan Mohan Reddy announced that a new sand policy would come into force from September 1. The government also cancelled licences given to sand reaches in the State. With the demand for sand peaking in July, there was severe shortage.

An estimated 2.08 lakh cubic metres of sand was made available in Guntur district. The Mining Department identified five reaches downstream of Prakasam Barrage in Kollur and Kollipara mandals.

"The Mining Department has identified 10 more sand reaches both in upstream and downstream of Prakasam Barrage. There is no scarcity of sand and we are awaiting for the new sand policy,’’ said Assistant Director, Mines, V. Ravi Kumar.

The new sand policy is raising interest among the people as the Chief Minister has reiterated that the system would be marked by complete transparency.

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Printable version | Jul 10, 2020 12:33:06 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Vijayawada/capital-works-push-up-demand/article28808351.ece

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