VIJAYAWADA: Describing the sand shortage in the State as a temporary phenomenon, Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy said it will end soon once the floods in the rivers recede.
Taking stock of the situation during a review meeting with the Roads and Buildings officials on Monday, the Chief Minister lambasted the TDP for encouraging sand mafia while it was in power and making it an issue now.
“The gates of Prakasam Barrage have been lifted for days and floodwater is flowing even now. It is good for farmers and crops. Sand will be available as per demand soon,” he said.
The previous government had allowed sand mafia to mine sand indiscriminately using heavy machinery, Jagan said.
During the TDP regime, the free sand policy was only for namesake as the sand mafia ruled the roost in the State, he said.
“We are now allowing only manual mining which makes a lot of difference. We have evolved the new sand policy, which is transparent and corruption-free, to benefit the poor people in the State,” the Chief Minister said. Due to floods for the last 90 days, only 61 out of the total 265 sand reaches in the State are operational. It has become difficult for trucks and tractors to transport sand from flooded areas. A transportation charge of `4.9 per km will be collected and the supply of sand will be increased after the floods in the rivers recede, the CM added.
Interest subsidy for M-Sand units
The State government has decided to provide subsidy on interest at the rate of 3 per cent per annum (Pavala Vaddi scheme) on facility upgradation costs (ranging from `50 lakh to `1.5 crore) for the existing stone crusher units into M-Sand units within a period of six months, which involves an outlay of `186.5 crore for five years at the rate of `37.3 crore per year. A GO in this regard was issued on Monday.
While the demand for river sand keeps increasing every year, its supply is declining. As a result, use of manufactured sand has to be promoted in a big way, which was done in various States like Karnataka, Telangana, Tamil Nadu and Gujarat.
M-Sand is produced by crushing rocks, quarry stone or larger aggregate pieces into sand-sized particles. Rocks or quarry stones are blasted and subjected to a series of crushing cycles to reduce the particles to the size of 150 microns. The sand is then sieved and washed to remove fine particles and impurities and tested for various quality aspects before it is deemed fit as a construction aggregate. To promote the use of M-Sand as a supplement to the river sand, a proposal for converting the existing stone crusher units into M-Sand units has been mooted. An M-Sand unit for the purpose of availing the incentive is defined as a crushing unit that produces at least 50% of its total production as M-Sand.