HYDERABAD: The Andhra Pradesh Government on Wednesday informed the Hyderabad High Court that it has brought the new Sand Policy 2016 to check sand mafia in the state. Defending the amendments brought to its new policy, it said that it has fixed the sand price at Rs.500 per cubic metre to benefit the common man.
A division bench of the Court comprising Acting Chief Justice Dilip B Bhosale and Justice S V Bhatt was hearing a batch of petitions contending that the State Government has no power to fix the sale price after excavation of sand. The petitioners sought for interim suspension of Rule 9-B (5) of AP Minor Mineral Concession Rules, 1966. Senior counsels D Prakash Reddy and Raghunandan, appearing for the petitioners, said that the amendment is ultra vires to the provisions of Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulations) Act 1957 and also contrary to the decision of the Supreme Court in Tamil Nadu state vs MPP Kavery Chetty case.
They contended that there was no power conferred upon the State Government under Section 15 of the Act 1957 to exercise control over the minor mineral after it has been extracted especially regarding fixation of sale price.
Admitting that the sand mafia is looting the people, AP state advocate general P Venugopal submitted that the sand mafia was selling the truck load of sand at Rs.50,000 though it costs about Rs.9,000 thereby causing adverse effect on the common man and also in escalation of cost of construction.
Reacting to the submission of AG, the bench queried how can the people buy if the price is so high?
The AG further said that under the new policy the government was granting lease of sand reaches through E-auction so that anyone can participate in it, and also fixing the price prior to the excavation of sand.
Further, the petitioners’ counsels said that the condition of the government that it will seize the deposit of successful bidders in case the bidders fails to get environmental clearance within 45 days after granting the lease is also illegal. While adjourning the case hearing to Thursday, the bench said it will examine all the issues raised by the petitioners on the issue.