Supreme Court defers hearing of sand mining case to November 19

JAIPUR: Building and construction industry faced another setback on Friday after Supreme Court set November 19 date for hearing the case.

With no immediate relief over ban on mining from SC for another three months, projects, especially private and worth crores, in many parts of the state have come to a standstill.

Since November 16, 2017, sand mining has been officially banned in the state after the court restrained 82 large lease holders from carrying out mining.

Lease holders alleged that thousands of labourers are unemployed and residents are facing inconvenience due to weak representation of the state government at the Ministry of Environment & Forests (MoEF).

Bajri/Letter of Intent (LOI) Welfare Society president Nawal Singh said, “The state mining department had shot a letter to the (MoEF) that LOI lapsed on March 31, 2018. Following this, in the last meeting of empowered committee of MoEF, which occurred on May 30-31, the matter was deferred stating that Rajasthan government is not clear on its stand about sand mining . However Bajri LOIs were not lapsed as the high court had put a stay over cancellation of Bajri leases”.

The prolonged ban on sand mining has adversely affected the livelihood of lakhs of people employed in construction and other related sectors. All Rajasthan Bajri Truck Operators Welfare Society, president, Naveen Sharma said, “We had recently presented a memorandum to the state government to take up the matter seriously as thousands of people are struggling without livelihood. However, our plea is unheard till date. Truck owners who were engaged in sand transportation are facing acute financial crisis in absence of employment. In the past eight months, the situation has gone from bad to worse. They are unable to deposit instalments of their vehicles and school fee of their children,”

With no alternative, developers in the state have shifted to M-sand , however, many are still struggling as it is not available in required quantity.

Gopal Gupta, chairman of CREDAI, Rajasthan, said, “As no option is available, developers have diverted and started using M-sand, which is even finer than bajri. More than five plants have been established in Jaipur and each plant produces 30-40 tonne. However, I agree more such plants are need of the hour,”

Due to paucity of sand, the demand has increased manifold and mining mafia has deployed scores of tractors and trucks to carry out the illegal trade clandestinely with the alleged support of police, administrative officials and a section of local politicians. Even in , as per an estimate, the mafia excavates sand from the river beds in Tonk and districts and transports over 500 trucks daily in violation of the apex court order.

The sand commands an exorbitant price in the and people who are in need are forced to buy it at higher rates “Since there’s no stringent action, every truck is being sold at double the price. People who have started their construction work are forced to buy bajri at high prices ranges between 1,400 cubic ft to 2,000 cubic ft,”said an official source.

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