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Tuesday, December 07, 2021

Sand dealers in Punjab stick to old rate despite govt slashing it

The Punjab government had recently fixed the rate of sand at Rs 5.50/cubic feet at the sand pit.

Written by Anju Agnihotri Chaba | Jalandhar |
November 14, 2021 9:24:38 am
Unloaded sand in Mohali (Express photo/Jaipal Singh)

Despite Punjab government’s much-publicised reduction of sand rates, there is little change on the ground with dealers still sticking to old rates at several places. The Punjab government had recently fixed the rate of sand at Rs 5.50/cubic feet at the sand pit.

A Jalandhar dealer, who did not wish to be named, said that he is still selling at the old rate of Rs 9 per cubic feet.

“When we are purchasing sand at Rs 9 per cubic feet at the sand pit, how can we sell at the rate fixed by the government at Rs 5.50 per cubic feet. I am selling it at the same old price which I used to sell before new rate fixed by the government,” he said.

The dealer, who has his shop located at a village in Jalandhar cantonment says that he is charging around Rs 21 per km transportation charges for sand.

He added: “I am selling a trolly carrying 100 cubic feet sand at a rate of Rs 2,800 which includes Rs 900 for sand price, including loading charges and remaining Rs 1,900 are the transportation price as I procure it from a pit head near Beas river, which is around 45 km from my place.”

Justifying the high transportation cost he said that apart from the fuel cost, money has to be allegedly “paid along the way to several people”.

“We are paying at 4-5 places on the way including to the owner of the field, people of the village from where our trolleys are passing because they said that their roads are getting damaged due to passing of sand trolley and trucks, officials of various departments etc.,” he claimed.

Another sand dealer from Basti Mithu area said that he was selling one trolley of 100 cubic feet sand at a rate of Rs 2,400 as he procures it from a place around 35 km from his shop.

“At the pit head we have to run the machine to excavate and fill the sand in the trolley and with the increasing rate of diesel, the transportation expenditure is quite high. He said that most of the sand is excavated at midnight from the fields near the river area because rivers bring huge amounts of sand during the rainy season.”

A mining officer, however, claimed that the new rate set by the government would be implemented on the ground in the coming couple of weeks where there would be a proper checking process by the department.

A senior Mining officer said: “Roots of the sand mafia are so deep in the state that electoral announcements are not enough to control the high prices of the sand in the state.” He added that sand dealers were getting sand almost free at the pit head.

Most dealers in Jalandhar either get sand from the banks of the rivers like Beas, Sutlej or from the agricultural fields.

“We are selling a trolley at a rate of Rs 2,000 only when a buyer is having a demand of at least four trolleys, because that sand we procure in the middle of the night from Beas river not from any field,” revealed another sand dealer. He termed this sand ‘chori da reta’ (sand theft from river bed), and it is not possible without cooperation from various government departments including, mining, revenue and police.

Senior officers in the mining and geology wing are not ready to come on record on the issue.

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