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Interim sand order breather for builders

The state government’s decision to allow sand mining at existing riverbanks at old rates from Wednesday, albeit temporarily, has brought cheer to the builders’ fraternity.

The mines and geology department has allowed sand mining at existing riverbanks at old rates from Wednesday in an interim arrangement to cope with the crisis.

B. Pradhan, principal secretary, mines and geology department, wrote a letter in this regard to all district magistrates late on Tuesday evening. “The state exchequer was suffering heavy losses of revenue owing to the blanket ban on sand mining. Though the order given by Patna High Court in the sand mining related case would be final, we have decided to make some interim arrangement. Till the time the court gives its order and fresh allotment of mining rights is done, we have allowed mining at the existing areas at the rates of 2013 only. The district magistrates would allow mining after payment of advance deposit by the existing contractors,” said Pradhan.

The arrangement naturally has come as a relief to builders’ in the city. “We welcome the interim arrangement for sand mining taken by the state government. The real estate market was witnessing a standstill situation, which is already faced with restraint on construction activities imposed by the high court and the Patna Municipal Corporation,” said Sachin Chandra, state chairperson, Bihar chapter, Builders’ Association of India.

The stopgap arrangement has also cheered up retail sand sellers, who hope prices might come down a bit.

“Now, the contractors would not be able to charge excessive price from the suppliers. Hence, the sand prices can come down by a bit over the next few days,” said Rakesh Kumar, a sand supplier at Makhdumpur.

The short supply of sand owing to restrictions had led to black marketeering as well. Sand prices went up manifold over the past couple of days. A tractor of sand, which was available for Rs 2,500, stood at between Rs 3,500 and Rs 4,000 in the last week.