NHAI contractors seek revision in norms for mining earth

Non-availability of raw material raised with E.V. Velu

Contractors undertaking work on the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) in the State have urged Chief Minister M.K. Stalin to change the policy of granting permission to mine earth for road construction projects.

At a meeting convened by Minister for Highways E.V. Velu on Tuesday, the contractors expressed their inability to continue with the projects due to non-availability of raw material, including earth and blue metal.

Many projects stopped

Sources said that around 80 projects to construct underpasses at black spots and 25 road projects had been stopped due to shortage of raw material. The contractors said they had raised the issues, including shortage of raw material, at a recent meeting convened by the Union Minister for Highways in New Delhi.

“The Minister said on an earlier occasion that if the State government did not cooperate, the NHAI would have no other go but to exit from the projects in the State,” said a contractor, who attended the meeting in Delhi.

A contractor, who attended the meeting in Chennai, said they were forced to pay ₹37 per cubic feet, instead of actual ₹4 to ₹7 a cubic feet of earth.

“There is a cartel and if we don’t agree to its rates, we are denied permission for mining. We need earth in lakhs of cubic feet for each project and have to spend large amounts on transportation as well. We want district collectors to be able to provide permission,” he said.

Contractors had issues with shifting of utility lines and construction of structures along waterbodies.

Monthly review

Mr. Velu directed the Highways Secretary to review the progress of NHAI projects every month and told the contractors that he had written to the respective Ministers seeking their cooperation in completion of these works.

Meanwhile, the Minister issued promotion orders to around 160 staff of the department whose promotions had been put on hold for over three years.

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