Assam move to ease sand, stone shortage

The Assam forest department will increase the number of sand and stone mahals (officially designated extraction sites) along with their extraction capacities to meet the demand of the construction sector.

By Rajiv Konwar in Guwahati
  • Published 17.09.18
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The meeting in progress on Sunday

Guwahati: The Assam forest department will increase the number of sand and stone mahals (officially designated extraction sites) along with their extraction capacities to meet the demand of the construction sector.

Scarcity of sand and stone chips has been a major cause of concern for the state's construction sector for long.

Forest minister Parimal Suklabaidya met senior officials of various departments here on Sunday and discussed how to tide over the crisis and bring transparency to the revenue collection system.

The meeting also decided to make the bidding and revenue collection process of all sand and stone mahals online and to amend the Assam Minor Mineral Concession Rules, 2013.

"Earlier, there was a certain limit on extraction from mahals. We will raise the limit. This will lead to an increase in revenue generation for mahals as well as the government. For the past couple of months, we have been also working on creating new mahals," Suklabaidya said after the meeting.

The minister said a few months ago the forest department had launched e-auctioning of mahals on a trial basis in Cachar district in Barak Valley, which will now be introduced across the state.

Representatives of MSTC Limited, an e-commerce company of the Centre having vast experience in e-auctioning, and Assam Electronics Development Corporation Ltd (Amtron), were present in the meeting.

"I am hopeful the introduction of the e-auction system will bring transparency into the department," Suklabaidya said. The stone and sand crisis will reduce significantly within a month or two, he added.

Amtron managing director M.K. Yadava said, "Under the guidance of excise and forest minister, we had completely revolutionised the online system in the excise department, which has been recognised as one of the best in the country. The minister now wants to introduce a similar online revenue management system in the forest department. We are going to introduce it in a phased manner initially with sand and stone. Other forest produce like timber will also be covered later."