State must engage in direct sale of M-sand: lorry owners

It would be a complicated legal process, says PWD

With the mushrooming of M-sand manufacturing units and unregulated sale of sub-standard products, the Tamil Nadu M-sand Lorry Owners Welfare Association has said that the State government must take up direct sale of M-sand on the lines of river sand.

However, sources at the Public Works Department said it would be a complicated legal process as nearly 70-80% of the crushed stone quarries were privately owned and the remaining was leased out by the government.

M-sand has become the alternative for river sand and nearly 22,000 -24,000 lorry loads are operated across the State daily. Though the PWD insisted on quality approval of M-sand before sales, there were several units that sold sub-standard material for a cheaper rate, said members of the association.

They alleged that Krishnagiri district was a hub of M-sand and about 6,000 loads were being transported to Karnataka daily.

S.Yuvaraj, the association’s president said Krishnagiri district has up to 150 crushed stone quarries and more loads are being transported than the permitted quantity.

He also cited a directive of the Madurai bench of Madras High Court in 2019 that noted that M-sand manufacturers must be restricted to sell only within the State. Indiscriminate quarrying and transportation of quality M-sand to other States would soon lead to disappearance of hillocks, he said.

The association sought regulation to prevent overexploitation of hillocks and ensure availability of quality sand.

While there are nearly 1,000 M-sand manufacturing units, only about 230 units have sought quality approval of PWD. Several such units function in Tiruneermalai in Chennai without approval.

PWD sources said the rate of M-sand varies according to the district and number of approved units. While M-sand is sold for Rs. 24 per cubic foot in Karur district due to competition and more approved units, it is sold for Rs.41 per cft in Chennai as there are not many units. In places where the material is sold for higher price, sub-standard material is provided for a cheaper price.

In Krishnagiri, PWD has approved 23 manufacturing units to produce nearly 19,330 tonnes of M-sand daily.

“As of now, we can only emphasise on quality approval. Once the M-sand policy is in place in the State, PWD would have powers along with other departments to monitor and control units that function without approval,” said a PWD official.

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