AP ‘sand scarcity’ leaves lakhs jobless

G Naga Sridhar Ch RS Sarma Hyderabad/Visakhapatnam | Updated on October 29, 2019

Cement industry too takes a hit

Till last month, Appa Rao was a busy man earning ₹500 a day as a mason. But, now, he is jobless and desperately searching for work around Visakhapatnam.

He is not alone. Across Andhra Pradesh, lives of lakhs of construction workers are crumbling due to the severe scarcity of sand, which has turned a rare commodity in the last 50 days.

“All construction activity across State has come to a halt after the announcement of a new sand policy by the State government,” A Siva Reddy, Chairman, Confederation of Real Estate Developers Association (CREDAI-AP), told BusinessLine.

According to CREDAI data, there are 30 lakh registered construction workers in the State. “There is literally no job and earning opportunity for these workers now,” said Reddy, adding that the stress of halted projects is beginning to tell on on developers, too.

The construction sector in Andhara Pradesh requires about one lakh tonnes of sand every day, but the current availability is almost zero.

The reasons

This is mainly due to the delay in the roll out of a new sand policy announced by the Jagan Mohan Reddy government. Under this policy, the government took over all aspects of sand mining, including its supply, with the AP Mineral Development Corporation as the nodal agency.

This is supposed to ‘correct the errors’ of the policy of the previous TDP government.

“However, all the promised sand reaches, as per the policy, are not yet operational. If you attempt to book sand online (on the portal), it is showing ‘no stock’ most times,’’ said M Venkata Mohan, a civil contractor of Vijayawada.

The floods have worsened the situation by delaying work at the sand reaches.

An APMDC official said that every day about 40,000 tonnes of sand are available but this gets sold out in minutes due to the huge demand and stockpiling by some. The situation is expected to ease soon, he added.

Andhra Pradesh is a sand-deficit State as it has only 1.2 crore cubic metres of sand against the demand of 2 crore cubic metres.

The worst hit

The worst hit are naturally those who are at the bottom of the pyramid.

According to a senior executive of a Hyderabad-based listed cement company, construction activity coming to a halt due to the sand scarcity has led to a precipitous dip in cement demand, hitting major cement companies operating in the State.

Published on October 29, 2019

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