Kerala Kaumudi Online
Friday, 24 September 2021 2.13 AM IST

Trick that turns sand to rock 


Tragic memories of the catastrophic floods that engulfed Kerala in August 2018 still linger in the minds of the people. There is also the damage caused by the floods in Pampa that had resulted in the accumulation of sand. Loads of sand collected from the river after the floods should have been an asset for the state exchequer. But due to the mismanagement of the government and the officials, that sand of 35000 cubic meters is now abandoned in the forest without any use to anyone. No one has any regret because it is public.

The sand collected at Pampady was later transferred to the forest center at Chakkupalam. Attempts were made to sell the sand by contract, but it did not happen with the intervention of the Opposition. The contract was abandoned after allegations surfaced that the company that took the contract was close to the administrators. The matter also ende in a vigilance investigation. Even as the legal battle continued, the high quality sand lay almost abandoned. Experts have now ruled that the sand is unsuitable for construction work. The mineral content of the sand is low. The findings are based on a report submitted to the government after a thorough study. No one thought that river sand, which is considered to be the cleanest and most suitable for construction work, would have such a tendency. It seems to be a trick of converting even sand to rock.
But experts' findings are sometimes like this. It does not make sense.
Strict restrictions will have to be imposed across the state as river sand mining has created serious environmental problems. Even when restrictions are in place, sand mining often takes place in secret, even on the banks of rivers. Even a new underworld group called the Sand Mafia has come up taking advantage of the sand shortage. Today the price of a load of good river sand is rupees thirty thousand and above. In the absence of river sand, the rock are crushed and used widely as M Sand and rock dust for construction activities in the state. M. Sand is manufactured by machinery and it has also gained widespread acceptance. When that is the situation, it is ridiculous that the Pampa sand, which was nature’s bounty, was abandoned in the forest, saying that it is not suitable for construction. It is common to see rocks and pebbles and other things in mud taken from river bed.

If they are separated and cleaned, pure sand can be extracted. If it had been collected from the river and sold at the right time, it would have got sold out within weeks. Without doing so, the sand was removed from the riverbank after the next flood. Meanwhile, there were disputes between the Devaswom Board and the Forest Department over the ownership of the sand.
At present the price of a cubic meter of river sand in the state is Rs.2000. In that sense, the 35,000 cubic meters of abandoned sand was worth millions. It was completely lost because the right decision was not made at the right time by the government. The failure of the project to extract sand from the dams was also due to the intervention by those with vested interests.

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