CHENNAI: In a big respite to the construction industry and the consumers who await ‘perfect’ time to buy houses at affordable costs, the state government recently invited bidders to import 30 lakh tonne of river sand from abroad at a whopping Rs 548.73 crore for two years.
According to a recent tender document floated by the public works department (PWD), the potential bidder would import five lakh tonne of river sand per month to keep the construction industry ticking. The tender document also elucidates that the individual firm or joint venture should import and supply natural river sand to PWD for the construction purpose for the period of two years.
The development has come two months after the PWD issued directions pertaining to import of sand from abroad in January. However, the PWD had made clear that the importers could not sell imported sand and ‘coerced’ them to hand over selling rights to the PWD. This provision received opposition and subsequent disinterest among the importers had forced the PWD to import itself. The sand would be imported through Ennore Kamarajar Port, Adani Kattupalli Port private ltd and Tuticorin V.O. Chidambaranar Ports.
It may be recalled that the construction industry in the state had been limping for nearly a year after the High Court injunction banning sand mining in Tamil Nadu. Although the government had advocated usage of M-Sand as an alternative to natural river sand, the meagre production capacity of the state had failed to succour the predicament that industry had been facing.
Moreover, the industry experts had earlier worried that the rates of buildings would go up due to the rise in prices of M-Sand and already stocked river sand.
“The government’s move to import river sand will result in the reduction of sand prices in Tamil Nadu. However, 10 consignments per month will not repair the losses that the industry had accrued,” S Ram Prabhu, Secretary, Builders’ Association of India, said. He also sounded optimistic and said that the sand price in the state would come down to Rs 80 per cft (cubic feet) from the present selling price of Rs 130 per cft.
Meanwhile, the government also laid conditions to ensure import of quality sand and asserted that the poor quality sand must be taken back out of Tamil Nadu at the cost of the importer. “The purchaser (PWD) shall inspect the goods to check conformity to the contract specifications. If the goods fail to meet standards, road transportation would not be allowed,” the document stated.