Even as the State government announced a new sand policy and decided to distribute sand free of cost to the needy, confusion prevails among people on how they could get sand, and for how long the policy would be in force.
Following severe criticism of the sand mafia that created artificial demand for the product and increased the price manifold, the government has come out with the new policy.
The beneficiary, however, will have to bear the expenses of sand loading and transportation, as per the prices fixed by the government.
In East Godavari, one of the sand-rich districts in the State, 24.9 lakh cubic metres of sand is available in 20 reaches spread across different mandals.
Fifteen reaches — Muggulla, Vemagiri, Atreyapuram, Mandapalli, Jonnada, Ubalanka, Ankampalem, Inavillilanka-Veeravallipalem, Bobbarlanka-Peravaram, Vadapalem-Narayanalanka, Vaddiparru, Rajavaram, Gopalapuram, Bridgelanka, and Ketavarilanka — have environmental clearances, where lifting of sand can be commenced immediately.
For the remaining five reaches located at Korumilli, Pulidindi, and Rayannapeta and the two reaches at Kapileswarapuram, permissions can be accorded at the district level, as per the revised guidelines issued by the government.
“Approach roads have to be laid to 10 reaches and the works will be undertaken under the MGNREGS very soon. Though the works are expensive, the government is keen on distributing the sand to the needy at the earliest,” says Collector H. Arun Kumar. Owing to acute shortage of sand for the last few months, construction activity has come to a standstill in the district.
“Construction workers remained idle for the past few months and we have brought the issue to the notice of the government many times,” recalls Tatipaka Madhu, working president of the Building Workers’ Union, also the district secretary of the Communist Party of India.
The loading charges are Rs. 175 for tractor carrying single unit of sand, Rs. 400 for two units, and Rs. 1,500 for the truck carrying 15 units.
The transport charges for tractors are Rs. 400 per trip for a distance below 5 km, Rs. 600 per trip up to 10 km, and Rs. 28 per km for the additional distance.
“We have set up a call centre and arranged toll-free telephone number 1800-425-3077 to register complaints pertaining to sand. The public can use the facility and bring their problems to our notice,” says Mr. Arun Kumar.
“There is no clarity on sand excavation policy and collection of details of the beneficiaries. The present system may lead to blocking of sand by some influential people, who can sell it during the monsoon for a higher price,” says Mr. Madhu.
He sought a meeting with all stakeholders and revision of the existing policy after thorough discussions.
Move comes after criticism of sand mafia that created artificial demand and increased the price manifold