Various sand owners’ associations have made representations to the State government to allow quarries to function for better availability of materials like M-sand for construction activity and government projects.
Members of the Tamil Nadu Sand Lorry Owners Association noted that the construction activity has been severely hit due to shortage in materials, such as M-sand and blue metal.
R.Muniratnam, the association’s president said construction activities have come to a standstill as quarries in many districts such as Villupuram, Kancheepuram, Tiruvannamalai were not being operated. This has also rendered several migrant workers jobless.
Many government projects, including construction of metro rail, Tamil Nadu housing board projects and law colleges, have also been affected as materials could not be conveyed from manufacturing units. The government must direct district administrations to allow functioning of quarries, he added.
Sand lorry owners also noted that several lorries remained off roads for over a year now as they did not get enough loads of sand or gravel. R.Panneerselvam, president, Tamil Nadu Sand Lorry Owners Co-ordinate Welfare Federation, said only 15,000 lorries were engaged in the trade now in the State. Such vehicles are designed for carrying only construction materials and cannot be used for transporting other goods.
Online booking for river sand has been stopped for several months now. “The government must take measures to operate quarries and help lorries get sufficient loads,” he added.
Officials of the Public Works Department said there was a slowdown in PWD projects, including construction of medical colleges and other infrastructure, due to shortage of labour and materials during the lockdown period. Complaints were also received about transport of adulterated M-sand.
District administrations may have temporarily stopped providing licences for operating quarries for M-sand due to lockdown. Similarly, online booking for river sand has been stopped owing to pandemic.
“We are continuing to receive applications for product approval from M-sand manufacturing units. The PWD assessment committee meets online to provide quality approval. Nearly 342 units have been certified for quality and 41 are pending for approval,” said an official.