Tamil Nadu real estate sector comes to standstill due to sand crisis

CHENNAI: Real estate sector in Tamil Nadu has come to a ‘standstill’ due to acute scarcity of river sand, delaying delivery of construction projects and affecting those dependent on the industry, city-based realtors said.

Lack of availability of river sand has forced property developers to look at alternative mechanisms like gypsum and M-sand, House of Hiranandani, Chairman and Managing Director, Surendra Hiranandani said.

“The real estate sector has come to a standstill due to dearth of river sand, thereby affecting the construction of on-going projects and taking a toll on the livelihood of hundreds of those dependent on the industry,” he told .

Citing the crisis, Hiranandani said, some of the “small scale developers” have stopped their projects.

On the initiatives taken up by House of Hiranandani to tide over the problem, the company MD said, “We have pioneered the use of Gypsum Vermiculate Plaster (GVP) since 1994 for internal walls as a replacement to sand cement plaster in all our projects.”

“GVP plaster gives a smooth surface finish.. The wall plaster can be finished without undulations and to higher precision,” he said.

On the use of M-Sand, Hiranandani said, though manufactured sand was only an alternative to river sand, the usage was “confined primarily to concrete and block works.”

“For plaster-related work, river sand is essential.. Manufactured sand cannot be used for plaster rendering works,” he said.

He further said if river sand and manufactured sand were available at the same rate, then using the latter will increase the cost of concrete “due to higher cement content.”

To a query on Government of Assam’s invite to property developers from the state to look for sand developers in that state, he said, “It is good that the state is taking steps to ensure that sand is available for the construction sector.”

“We hope this works out as a viable option for the construction industry.. How soon and at what cost this supply can happen remains to be seen,” he said.

Echoing similar views, Olympia Group, General Manager Projects, S Vishnukumar said the shortage of sand has “resulted in slow down of projects” by two months.

However, he said the industry immediately took a jump and migrated to M-Sand.

Detailing some of the initiatives taken by his company to tide over the sand crisis, he said, “Because of the shortage of river sand we had to change the specifications and move towards greener products like gypsum for internal wall plastering.”

Asked whether M-Sand was the future for realty projects, he said, “M-Sand can be the future forward provided there should be a supply of enough good qualities”.

He rued that the shortage of river sand delayed projects taken up by the company by two months and said it was not “healthy.”