Sand lorry stir reaching boiling point in City

Civic projects, including BWSSBs Cauvery scheme, severely affected
Last Updated 16 November 2011, 19:45 IST

A contractor involved in a major work said the project had run out of both river as well as robo sand and the supply had completely stopped.

“We distribute work sequentially according to the work order, for the past 20 days, there is absolutely no stock and our labourers are forced to do other work. This way, the project will definitely be delayed if the strike is not called off,” he said.

The BWSSB officials have made efforts to get in touch with the Deputy Commissioners of Ramanagaram and Mandya to allow sand to be transported to Thorekadanahalli (TK Halli) where the project is being executed.

Requests have also been made to allow transportation of robo sand from Bidadi, so that the project does not come to a complete standstill. Labourers are right now doing mechanical work since civil work has completely stopped.

The Cauvery project was earlier dogged by a shortage of labourers, and now, there’s no supply of sand. The project is expected to supply an additional 500 million litres of water to Bangalore by March 2012.

It is not just the BWSSB, but also some of the other projects of the BBMP, including Metro works, have been severely affected with the sand lorry strike. Speaking with Deccan Herald, Dayananda Reddy, president of Karnataka Land Developers’ Association, said the government had choked the “lifeline” of construction works across the State and the City.

“The issue is not cost or availability; sand is the lifeline of all construction works and people are exploiting the situation to sell sand in black now. This is the reason why the strike is not being resolved,” he added.

Construction works, from private villas and apartments to public sector works like that of the BMRCL, have been badly affected. The work in this sector has slowed down by 90 per cent, Reddy said.

The price of a truckload of sand shot up from Rs 12,000 to Rs 25,000 last week. Presently, the price varies between Rs 40,000 and Rs 60,000.

“Such inflation is abnormal and is only because government is indifferent to our demands. We will not bow to pressure this time and we do not care if the price touches Rs one lakh,” said G Shanmugappa, leader of Karnataka Lorry Owners’ Association.

Labourers are fleeing to their hometowns or other states in search of jobs. Associations such as Karnataka Construction Workers’ Association have even been providing them one meal a day to ensure they do not quit the association. Construction works have been hit all over the City with concrete, cement and stone crushers’ associations also joining the stir.

Temporary permits
The government is ready to provide temporary permits to sand transporting lorries.
A meeting held on Wednesday by transport department officials maintained its earlier stand that the Mines and Geology department was ready to let sand transporting trucks continue work under temporary permit until March 2012.

“But the association is not ready to accept this arrangement. The Public Works Department has asked for three months’ time, by which time it will be ready to auction sand under new policy. Until the sand policy is implemented the government cannot do anything” said Shyam Bhat, transport commissioner.

(Published 16 November 2011, 19:45 IST)

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