The Andhra Pradesh government announced its new sand policy today in the wake of concerns expressed about over exploitation of river sand.
State mines minister Galla Aruna Kumari, who announced the new policy, told reporters that the process of allocating sand through tender-cum-public auction would be done away with and will be allotted through a lottery system.
She said that inter-state sand transportation would be banned as per the new policy and vehicles, machinery as well as sand would be seized if rules are violated.
The policy has also banned the use of poclains and other machinery on river beds and fixed the price of sand at Rs 325 per cubic metre.
The minister said the new policy, drafted by a cabinet sub-committee of seven ministers, is aimed at supplying sand at a cheaper rate. She said that the government is ready to treat sand as an essential commodity like in Punjab. The new policy restricts quarrying of sand as stipulated in the Water, Land and Trees Act (WALTA).
The policy was formulated following concerns expressed by courts, environmental activists and others. It is expected to ease the shortage of sand to the construction industry, after a courts stayed sand mining.
The sand in small rivers, rivulets and other water bodies can be used freely for local needs and for construction of houses under the 'Indiramma' poor housing scheme after obtaining certain necessary approvals.
The new policy also applies to those who are already quarrying sand and if any existing bidders refuse to accept the new policy, they will be returned money proportionate to the quantity they have not mined.
The government will also consider promoting the use of rock sand, she said.