In a bid to bring down the escalating sand price and meet growing demand, sand lorry owners have urged the government to lift the ban on sand quarrying in Kancheepuram district.Members of Tamil Nadu State Sand Lorry Owners Federation, who staged a demonstration in the city on Wednesday, said they were forced to wait for long hours in other districts like Vellore and Villupuram to source sand for Chennai and its suburbs.The federationâ€™s president, S. Yuvaraj, also said lorry owners were forced to carry additional loads in their vehicles by the Public Works Department (PWD), to achieve the daily target. Instead of 200 cubic feet (cu. ft.) that makes one load of sand, we are forced to carry a minimum of 300 cubic feet. Lorries are often seized and fined by the transport department for overloading, he said.
The federation wants the PWD to stop overloading of vehicles and open new quarries to bring down the price. While the base rate for river sand is fixed at Rs. 840 for 200 cu. ft., lorry owners said they purchased 300 cu. ft. of sand at a rate of Rs. 7,500- Rs. 8,300 from stockyards across the State. When it reaches the customer, the price touches Rs. 13,000-Rs. 14,000 per 300 cu. ft. load of sand, they said.The members also charged that sales of adulterated sand and use of blue metal dust in concrete mix have increased in the city owing to the shortage. They plan to conduct similar demonstrations in Salem and Coimbatore.
However, sources in PWD denied they were insisting on overloading lorries. At present, the city and its neighbourhood has a daily demand of 4,000 loads and only 1,000-1,500 loads of sand are being supplied every day.The Chennai region now has 11 quarries in Tiruvallur, Vellore, Villupuram and Cuddalore. We want to increase the number of loads supplied. We have proposed opening a minimum of six to seven quarries in Cuddalore and Villupuram, sources said.