To curb illegal mining, Andhra mulls making sand free for construction in state

Sand may henceforth be available free of cost for all construction activity within Andhra Pradesh.

Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu on Friday suggested that sand be henceforth supplied free to all. He mooted the idea while reviewing the vexatious sand mining policy through a video-conference with Ministers and District Collectors in Vijayawada.

“The Chief Minister has in principle decided to supply sand free of cost. Detailed guidelines in this regard will be worked out and notified soon,” Ministers P Narayana and P Pulla Rao said after the video-conference.

The Government was considering supplying sand without any restrictions, they said.

Steps would be taken that the free sand was not illegally shipped out of the state, they added.

Illegal sand mining had been thriving in the state for the past few years. The TDP Government, soon after assuming power in June 2014, entrusted the sand mining and selling responsibility to women self-help groups and introduced an online system.

But the system apparently failed as sand continued to be sold at exorbitant prices due to increased construction activity in the state.

Following this, the Government amended relevant mining rules many times in the last couple of years and also decided to review the policy as a whole.

The Chief Minister suddenly came up with the free supply idea today and reportedly told the Ministers and Collectors that Rs 200 crore income the Government was earning could be foregone as a “welfare measure”, sources said.