ANDHRA PRADESH

They turn sand to bread

Drought has seen many jump into the mining `sandwagon'

S. Harpal Singh

ADILABAD: Thanks to the construction boom, sand mining has emerged as one of the more profitable ventures in the unorganised sectors. Sand contractors or suppliers and hundreds of labourers engaged in mining earn a decent income - Rs. 150 to Rs. 200 -- daily. On these days of prolonged drought and dwindling jobs, this has come as a huge relief to many.

There are 72 rivers of varying sizes in Adilabad district marking the 72 reaches where sand could be mined. However, due to the restrictions laid down by the State High Court, the Ground Water Department has permitted mining of sand in only a dozen reaches. Seven of these are on the Godavari river. The remaining are on minor rivers. Sand is illegally mined in some areas because of the heavy demand. Sand from Peddavagu, Vattivagu, Mancherial, Naspur and Jannaram is popular among the masons in the district. Fine quality sand is also imported from Saloora river on the Nizamabad-Maharashtra border.

No records

As this activity falls under the unorganised sector, none keeps a record on the number of labourers engaged in sand mining. However, estimates put the figure in several hundreds. At each reach about 50 labourers can be seen loading lorries and tippers with sand.

Sand in Adilabad can cost between Rs. 1,500 and Rs. 2,500 for each 1,000 sq.ft. As many riverbeds have run out of sand deposits, inferior quality from these beds is sold at Rs. 800 per 1,000 sq.ft. From time to time the District Panchayat department makes surprise checks on illegal sand mining and levies fines on the miners.

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