Today's Paper

NGT order hits sand availability

The National Green Tribunal (NGT) slapped an interim penalty of Rs. 100 crore on the State government for illegal sand mining in the first week of this month. Subsequently, the mining reaches that are in the vicinity of Vijayawada and Guntur have been closed severely impacting the construction industry.

A truckload of sand that used to cost Rs. 4,000 just before the National Green Tribunapronounced its order now costs over Rs. 15,000, and some times it is difficult to get it even if the buyer is willing to pay more.

The officials are clueless when the sand reaches would be reopened.

Capital Region Builders Association (CRBA) Chairman Gadde Rajling says that work has come to a grinding halt for various reasons, primarily due to non-availability of sand.

Huge requirement

The city requires 750 to 1,000 lorries of sand every day if the number of ongoing projects were to be considered. The government hasn’t acted in the “desired manner ” after the NGT imposed the fine. The sand reaches were closed in the State with no alternative mechanism in place.

It was not just the builders and the common man who was suffering. Even government works have slowed down.

“There is no accountability,” he says.

When contacted, Mines and Geology Joint Director V. Koteswara Raju said that the sand reaches that have environmental clearances were running. There are about 70 sand reaches across the State which have environmental clearances. The NGT order was “primarily about desiltation” caused by sand reaches.

Following the NGT order, three reaches in Vijayawada and five in Guntur have been closed.

Some of the reaches in inland areas such as Nandigama are functioning, he explains.

The NGT had directed the State government to deposit Rs. 100 crore “environment compensation” with the Central Pollution Control Board within a month.

The tribunal’s direction came on a plea filed by Anumolu Gandhi, who alleged illegal sand mining was causing damage to the Krishna and Godavari rivers and their tributaries in the State.

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