Construction activities in the State will be hit as sand transporters have decided to go on an indefinite strike from Saturday.
Federation of the Karnataka Lorry Owners’ Association said that the strike was to protest the “harassment” of sand transporters by the police and officials of the various government departments.
The Federation, in a press release on Friday, alleged that the current policy overlooked ground realities and missed the key goal of streamlining transportation of sand.
It alleged the policy had been designed “to foster smuggling of sand” to other states such as Kerala and Goa against gratification to the tune of Rs 50,000 to Rs 75,000 per truckload.
Federation president G R Shanmugappa said his organisation had been demanding a comprehensive sand mining policy. The rule that was notified on December 16 was “half-hearted”, as it did not speak about checking smuggling of sand to other states.
He demanded that an agreeable policy be put in place to ensure “legal transportation of sand,” besides issuing monthly permits to truck operators so that sand transported legally is not seized and illegal transportation is checked.
“The number of permits must be commensurate with the demand in the State. There should not be multiple agencies to check sand trucks and the vehicles should not be allowed to load sand beyond three feet,” he said.
He claimed that the demand for sand was 3,000 truckloads a month, but permits had been issued for only 300 truckloads. Of the 300 truckloads, 200 are smuggled to Kerala through Mysore, Chamarajanagar and Mandya district with the full knowledge of the public works department officers, the police and the road transport officers.
Shanmugappa said that in July, the Federation went on a strike for 11 days. Subsequently, the chief minister and the public works department minister had assured them that their demands to check illegal mining would be considered by levying a fine of Rs 6,000 per truckload of sand on an ad hoc basis, without any criminal cases against drivers or lorry owners. The rule was followed for only 15 days, but again the officers resorted to their old tactics, he said.