Tamil Nadu

Policy meet on M-sand in November

Representational image.  

With rising complaints on the unregulated sale of sub-standard M-sand, the Public Works Department (PWD) will convene a meeting with stakeholders on an M-sand policy in November.

The policy, which will have a legal framework for production and sale, is expected to be implemented early next year.

The meeting will be held with representatives of government agencies like the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board and the Department of Mining, and manufacturing units and lorry owners’ associations.

PWD officials said the meeting would discuss various aspects of M-sand production, transport and sales and incorporate more guidelines into the policy under consideration.

The decision follows a representation from the Tamil Nadu Sand Lorry Owners Federation on Wednesday for measures against unauthorised manufacturing units, sale of poor quality M-sand and seizure of vehicles for overloading. On an average, 33,000 loads of M-sand is being transported daily.

Federation president Sella. Rajamani said 200-300 units were functioning in the State without government approval. There was no check on indiscriminate quarrying and transport of M-sand to other States, and this would lead to the disappearance of hillocks, he said. “Vehicles are overloaded with M-sand and additional units of sand are not billed. But vehicles are seized and fined instead of manufacturing units or clients,” he said.

The Federation has also sought regulation of the M-sand cost and a separate enforcement wing to curb over-exploitation of mineral resources.

At present, 270 M-sand manufacturing units have sought the PWD’s quality approval, and 40 applications are being processed. Nearly 1,070 units have sought consent from the TNPCB to operate across the State.

A PWD official said: “We will also discuss incorporating a provision for periodical inspection of quarries in the M-sand policy to prevent over-exploitation of resources. Measures against overloading of vehicles and offenders will also be discussed, as requested by lorry owners. We have also received complaints of transport of M-sand immediately after wet processing.”

The policy would empower the PWD to take legal action against unauthorised manufacturing units. Sales of poor quality sand or manufacturing M-sand without licence may attract a fine of up to ₹5 lakh and imprisonment of up to two years.

“We can only emphasise quality approval now. Once the policy is in place, the PWD would have powers, along with other Departments, to monitor and control units that function without approval,” said an official.

On the demand for direct sales of M-sand by the government, sources said it would be a complicated legal process as nearly 70% of the crushed stone quarries were of private ownership and the rest were leased out by the government.

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Printable version | Nov 24, 2020 2:48:22 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/policy-meet-on-m-sand-in-november/article32865969.ece

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