Imported load to the rescue of Chennai builders
Supply of river sand has come to a grinding halt in the state with imported sand from Malaysia becoming the only source for accessing it.
The second consignment of more than 50,000 tonnes of river sand sourced from the Southeast Asian country is likely to reach Kamarajar Port at Ennore on Tuesday evening.
Sand lorry operators say distribution from depots, where sand mined from rivers is deposited, has been stopped. R Panneerselvam, president of the Federation of Tamil Nadu Sand Lorry Owners Coordination, said bookings for sand from depots are continuing online. “But, there is absolutely no business happening at the depots because PWD officials say they are unable to mine river sand due to opposition from political parties.”
Five depots have been notified as supply points in the state. While there are no transactions at the depots, Panneerselvam said illegal sand mining continued unabated in delta districts including Cuddalore, Nagappattinam and Tiruvarur. “Booking for scooping sand from depots continues though nobody has any clue when the supply would resume,” he said.
Quarries had been offering about 2,000 loads till four months ago but S Yuvaraj of the Tamil Nadu State Sand Lorry Owner’s Federation said trucks registered for six months online were yet to get sand.
Sources at Ennore port said the second consignment of river sand from Malaysia would arrive on Tuesday. The first consignment that reached Ennore on September 23 was exhausted in two months.
Construction sector sources said the demand for imported sand had spiralled. Vice-chairman of the Builders’ Association of India’s Southern Centre Ramaprabhu said that the fresh import would be sold out in a month.
“Imported sand is most sought after among those involved in construction of individual houses. Apart from Chennai, Kancheepuram and Tiuvallur districts, sand sourced from Malaysia is also on demand for constructions in Tiruvannamalai district,” he said.
When contacted a senior PWD official said that the government was initiating measures to ensure operation of all depots in the state.
Admitting that sub-standard contractors were a problem, the official said, “Government is fighting all odds to effectively keep the quarries running.”