The state government’s move to give environmental clearance to sand mining companies will reduce sand blackmarketing at higher prices and thereof make houses cheaper, real estate experts said on Tuesday.
The state has been facing an acute shortage of sand, which was being ‘black’ marketed at 30% more than the normal price. The crisis has stuck several ongoing private and government projects in the state.
However, the state level environment impact assessment authority (SEIAA) has given clearance to seven sand ghats (riverbeds) and is likely to approve 42 more by the end of the month.
“Approval letter for mining from seven sand ghats was issued today. Applications of 42 ghats have been sent to the state expert appraisal committee (SEAC) for its approval. Fate of these ghats would be decided on July 31,” SEIAA member secretary AK Prabhakar told HT.
He said that they had received mining plan of another 54 sand ghats. “But, applications were missing with the plans. We asked the agencies to submit the required applications for clearance,” Prabhakar said.
The National Green Tribal (NGT) on March 5 this year had issued a fresh directive to the state banning sand lifting without environment clearance. The directive had come in the light of the state government’s permission for sand lifting operation to the gram panchayats on February 5, 2015.
SEIAA provides clearance with certain conditions. “Mining companies will have to maintain a distance of 15 metres from the river point and the same should be a minimum of 500 metres from a bridge or intake pit,” SEAC chairman Ashwni Kumar Saxena said. He said that a distance of 500 metres is also required from the breeding centre of aqua life.
Jharkhand has altogether 654 sand ghats (riverbeds). Auctioning process of 60% of the ghats has been completed by now and they have been asked to go for environment clearance process, a state mining department official said.
The ban had fuelled illegal sand mining and black marketing of the minor mineral. Prices increased manifold in last four months. Cost of 170 cubic feet (CFT) sand, which was available at Rs 2,500 in February, now costs Rs 3,500.
Similarly, 300 CFT, which costed Rs 5,000 four months ago, is now available at Rs 6,500.“With beginning of legal mining, prices of the item will definitely fall. Price may drop by 30% as per expectations,” Moin Akhtar, secretary Sand Truck Owners’ Association, said.
The realtors are heaving a sigh of relief with beginning of environmental clearance process.
“We expect the stuck projects will now get a start. If sand prices fall by 30%, price of dwelling units would drop by Rs 20 to Rs 25 per square feet,” builders’ association of India (Jharkhand) president RS Agarwal said.