The state government’s decision to increase royalty on sand mining to generate revenue received flak from legislators across party lines on Friday.
Legislators in the state Assembly demanded that the Revenue department should rethink its decision to double the royalty on sand mining and quarrying because it had a cascading effect on common people, workers and the construction and mining industry.
The state had increased royalty on mining from Rs 100 to Rs 200 per brass [100 cubic feet of sand] in February. Several mining associations in Thane, Vasai and Bhiwandi shut down all activity in protest. The construction industry has also complained that higher royalty will lead to increase in costs.
Bharatiya Janata Party’s Eknath Khadse and Nana Patole, Shiv Sena’s Suresh Jain, and many other legislators said that sand mafia and cartels were holding people to ransom by passing their increased costs to them by raising prices of sand, mud and stones.
“Ideally, we should hit the sand mafia, but at some level or the other, we all have connections and links with them,” said Jain. He said that the government should keep a check on profiteering by the sand mafia.
The legislators said this will lead to a hike in construction costs in rural and urban areas.
Revenue Minister Narayan Rane, however, said the hike was not for the common man. “Farmers who want to build houses won’t be taxed. It won’t affect villagers,” said Rane. “It is meant for developers and contractors, who can afford to pay the increased cost.”