A five-month ban on sand mining in Madhya Pradesh has hit the construction industry and the prospective home owners financially who now are forced to buy sand from the black-market to see their dream home come true, builders said on Tuesday.
The Madhya Pradesh government had imposed the ban on all sand mining sites from June 1 to October 31 this year following the National Green Tribunal’s (NGT) July 20 directive.
The tribunal had recommended the ban to save aquatic life which thrives on the riverbeds during the monsoon and is hit due to mining.
Wasiq Hussain, president of the Confederation of Real Estate Developers’ Association of India (CREDAI) Bhopal chapter, said “This is for the first time that a ban on sand mining has been imposed during the monsoon period. Due to this, the supply of sand got restricted and its prices soared from Rs 30 to Rs 65-70 per cubic feet.”
He said the escalation of cost had taken its toll on incomplete housing projects the most, as the major builders were unable to give possession of flats and duplexes to around 2000 people.
The ban has literally brought the construction work on around 400 housing projects in and around Bhopal to a halt for want of sand, Hussain said.
Another builder said the short supply of the building material had led to its black marketing as the hoarders wanted to cash in on the increased profit margins.
“Those who badly need sand for completing their projects in which they have invested heavily, are buying sand at high prices, which is also pushing the cost of the housing projects up, ultimately putting the burden on the prospective home owners,” he said.
Besides, builders and buyers, the ban has also hit transporters and labourers who directly or indirectly draw subsistence from the business.
Bhopal Sand Truck Owners’ Association (BSTOA) secretary Vishwabandhu Rawat said, “Over 1500 trucks supply sand to the construction sector in Bhopal. For every truck there are two drivers and two conductors who work on alternate days. So in all, nearly 6000 families have been affected by the ban.”
The truck owners too are in a tight spot as they have to pay salaries to their drivers and conductors. Rawant said, “We can’t use our vehicles for any other purpose as they are registered with the mineral resources department for ferrying minerals only.”
On July 20, NGT had directed the MP government to stop sand mining in all riverbeds of the state during monsoon period (June 1-Octover 31) to protect the aquatic life-forms, which have their breeding season during the monsoons.
The NGT gave two reasons for the ban: First it said state’s Fisheries Policy 2008 outlines that there would be no sand mining during the monsoon period. Second, the state environment impact assessment authority (SEIAA ) itself had given environmental clearance to 61 sand mining leases with the condition (called condition number 5) that sand mining would be permissible only from November 1 to May 31.
The NGT stated that it had extended the condition to the rest of the 63 mining leases in the state as the condition number 5 had not been imposed in their case. There are 124 sand mining leases that can validly operate in the state.
In September this year, the ministry of environment and forests issued draft guidelines on sustainable sand mining management, for objections and suggestions, according to which no river sand mining will be allowed in the rainy season from July to September.