CHENNAI: In a bid to address the acute shortage of sand in the building industry, the Tamil Nadu government plans to import five lakh tonnes of natural river sand for construction purposes. The government will directly procure sand and sell it to the industry.
A Public Works Department (PWD) official said tenders have been floated to procure river sand imported through Adani Katupalli Port, Kamarajar Port and VOC Port. “We have called for tenders to procure river sand at a cost of `548.73 crore,” the official added.“The pre-bid meeting will be on March 21 and the technical bids will be opened on April 12, 2018,” said a source.
This is the first big step after Tamil Nadu recently framed regulations on import and buying of sand from outside the state.“All reputed individual firms or joint ventures or consortium of two entities are invited for the bidding process. The pre-bid meeting will be on March 21 and the technical bids will be opened on April 12, 2018,” sources said.
The price of the sand imported will be fixed by the PWD taking into account factors such as country/state/Union territory from where the sand is brought, cost of procurement and applicable taxes or duties.
Welcoming the government move, S Rama Prabhu, secretary, Builders Association of India, said, “The rates will come down. We believe 10 ship loads of sand will be brought.”The move comes at a time when the real estate sector in the state has been struggling to complete projects and meet delivery commitments owing to the scarcity of the building material.
According to industry estimates, river sand shortage has delayed construction projects worth `10,000 crore, blocked launch of new projects and caused five lakh job losses. Also, in the past six months, the price of sand increased from `35 to `135 per cubic foot, resulting in a spike in construction costs. Prabhu said the government move will instill confidence in the industry “as the suppliers do not have to live in fear over the fate of the consignment and payment for imports”. However, certain real estate developers are sceptical about the government’s intentions. “Why are they regulating it? Let the developer import sand directly,” a developer said. If steel and cement can be imported by private players, there is no reason why sand can’t be, he added.