he Telangana government could earn Rs. 365 crore in the current year from sale of sand for construction and related purposes, which is a quantum jump from that of the previous years.
The feat could be achieved thanks to the measures taken by the Telangana government for curtailing illegal smuggling of sand, Minister for Mining and Geology T. Harish Rao shared in the Legislative Assembly here on Monday.
This is the first ever time that a sand policy has been announced by any government, Mr. Rao said, replying to a query by Congress legislator D.K.Aruna during question hour. Income from sand had gradually come down over the years to a little over Rs.5 lakh in 2013-14, and has been brought up to the present figure only owing to efforts by the Telangana government to increase transparency through online sale of sand.
The sale of sand through the web portal ‘sand.telangana.gov.in’, has enabled people to book sand directly through Mee Seva centres, thus doing away with brokers. Proof is in the 15,000 trucks of sand booked through the portal so far, Mr.Harish Rao said, in response to Ms. Aruna’s allegation that the portal did not work most of the time. Besides prevention of overloading, a total of 5,946 cases have been booked on sand mafia and a penalty of Rs.11 crore has been slapped on the offenders, Mr. Harish Rao said.
A call centre has been set up for whistle blowers to pass on info about sand smuggling.
The sand seized during raids is being used for government works. As a result of all these measures, the price of sand has come down by half to Rs.11,000-12,000, Mr. Harish Rao claimed. The government has decided to encourage ‘manufactured sand’ to conserve the natural sand in rivers and streams. Towards this, the enterprises manufacturing sand have been categorised as industries so that they can avail themselves of all government subsidies.
Answering a supplementary question by member S. Satyanarayana about the right of the abutting villages to use the sand, Mr.Harish Rao said sand from the stream may be taken in small quantities for the local needs, after paying the required seigniorage.
Congress members D.K. Aruna and S.A. Sampath Kumar alleged that sand was being smuggled in the name of irrigation and other government projects.