An alarming shortage of stone chips, vital for building construction, on Wednesday saw a delegation of civil contractors meeting chief minister Arjun Munda in Jamshedpur to demand extension of deadlines by five months for completion of various government projects in East Singhbhum district.
The crisis, which cropped up following a Supreme Court directive in February this year, has not only pushed up prices of building material but also given a handle to a section of unscrupulous police officers to harass suppliers with.
Led by Dinesh Sharma, secretary of Kolhan Contractors' Association (KCA), the delegation handed over a memorandum to the chief minister. The team also highlighted the difficulties in procuring stone chips.
“On one hand we have to cough up extra for the stone chips due to a sharp fall in production, on the other hand we have to face harassment by police while carrying the chips from the crusher-units to the city,” Sharma said.
Notably, on February 27, the apex court ordered that no lease for minor minerals or stone quarry be granted within a radius of 500 metres of a forest area. The directive also asked the mining department not to renew leases of such quarries and stop providing mining challan. The East Singhbhum district mining office implemented the instruction from the next day.
As in Kolhan most of the stone quarries are situated in or around forest land, 60 per cent of the crusher units out of 300 odd had to shut down due to the directive.
Now, contractors have to cover long distances to bring the stone-chips and in the process are often stopped by the police.