Vijayawada

Illegal sand mining: Construction workers hit hard

While the ban on sand mining has been successful in clamping down on the sand mafia to a large extent in the district, its consequences are just not limited to the so-called mafia. Thousands of construction workers have lost their livelihood following the ban, and several construction works have come to a standstill.

Sand, once freely plundered, has become a scarce commodity as the government continues to impose the ban. "There are about 85,000 construction workers in Kurnool city," said J. Nageswara Rao, district secretary of the Building and Other Construction Workers Union. While some of them live in the city, a significant majority comes to the city looking for work, he said.

These people commute from small villages and hamlets around the city hoping to find work. However, since the ban, work for them is becoming increasingly tough to find. "They get paid about ₹300 to ₹350 per day. These people have been suffering the most due to the ban," Mr. Rao added.

On the other hand, the district authorities claim that sand is currently being delivered to people after they get clearances from the MRO. "There are a lot of rumours going around that sand is not available. This is simply not true," said Additional Assistant Director of Mining S. Amir Basha. He says that construction works have been going on, albeit at a slower pace.

However, Mr. Rao claimed that only the rich and the well-connected persons were getting sand from the government currently, and added there was no proper system in place for distributing sand after the ban. "Middle class people who want to construct their houses have been struggling," he said.

Truckers hit too

Apart from that, the ban on sand mining has also hit truckers. When farm produce is low, the truckers turned to sand. These trucks used to transport sand in July and August to make a quick buck. "Due to the ban and the lack of supply, about 600 trucks have been lying idle," said long lorry association vice-president Minnella.

Tough time ahead

With the new policy expected to come into effect in early September, the workers have another month of a tough time ahead. Moreover, it is yet to be seen if the new policy would actually perform in the way the YSR Congress Party claims it would.

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Printable version | Aug 8, 2020 2:48:28 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Vijayawada/construction-workers-hit-hard/article28808321.ece

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