Andhra Pradesh

Post free sand policy, focus shifts to alternative revenue sources

The free sand policy has brought down the cost of construction significantly, says Minister.   | Photo Credit: C.V.Subrahmanyam

Andhra Pradesh is the first State to supply sand free of cost to the people. The policy, which was announced one year ago, has its impact on the revenue front.

The government has, therefore, turned its attention to alternative sources of revenue such as limestone, a raw material for the cement industry. It has laid emphasis on taking the MoUs signed during the Partnership Summit in Visakhapatnam to their logical conclusion.

Talking to The Hindu, Mines and Geology Minister R. Venkata Sujay Krishna Ranga Rao said the government had entered into MoUs with several cement industries during the Partnership Summit. Subsequently, it had auctioned five blocks of limestone. The blocks at Erragandi and Venkatapuram (both in Kurnool district) and Gudipadu (Anantapur district) fetched ₹159 crore. Four blocks at Mettugudipadu and one at Pillutla near Piduguralla in Guntur district were ready for auction.

“Going forward, we will auction gold and manganese blocks too. It will take some more time,” he said.

Other steps

Increasing the seigniorage fee for 17 minor minerals, rationalisation of seigniorage fee for 31 newly-added minor minerals, enhancement of application fee, and introduction of security deposit to avoid blocking of huge extents by the applicants were a few other initiatives taken to augment the revenues, he explained.

When free sand policy was introduced, everyone thought there would be no regulation. Those who were making money on sand were obviously not happy with the guidelines. But one should understand that every policy would be governed by certain rules, he said.

“The department has introduced a series of measures such as launching the ‘mana sand’ App, constitution of district-level committees, monitoring of sand-related activities real time, and opting for GPS tagging. The government may be losing ₹550 crore due to the free sand policy, but has brought down the cost of construction significantly,” he explained.

Safety in mines

On safety in the mines and the recent fatalities in the mines at Firangipuram and other places, the Minister said that the managements had been directed to pay a compensation of ₹10 lakh to ₹15 lakh to bereaved families. This was over and above the prescribed norms. This apart, the government would pay ₹5 lakh under Chandranna Bima. In all, 13 mines had been closed down after the Firangipruam incident, he added.

“Taking a serious view of the safety standards, the government has decided to ban the use of ammonium nitrate in the mines,” he said. The leaseholders were being asked to take up mining layer by layer, and from top to bottom. The department has achieved 120% of the target by collecting ₹1,387crore till November as against the target of ₹1,157 crore. The collection was ₹967 crore during corresponding period last fiscal. Major minerals fetched a revenue of ₹800 crore and the revenue through minor minerals was ₹587 crore. While limestone, crude oil, natural gas, heavy mineral beach sand (ilmenite, sillimanite), and iron ore were top contributors to the revenues from major minerals, granite, laterite, silica sand, and quartz contributed to the revenues from the minor minerals.

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Printable version | Mar 9, 2021 7:32:39 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/andhra-pradesh/post-free-sand-policy-focus-shifts-to-alternative-revenue-sources/article22272296.ece

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