The Madras High Court today posted to February 12 the hearing of a PIL challenging a Tamil Nadu government order restricting the import and sale of river sand to the Public Works Department (PWD). The First bench comprising Chief Justice Indira Banerjee and Justice Abdul Quddhose adjourned the PIL by L Adimoolam, publisher of Tamil daily Dinamalar (Coimbatore edition) to Monday. The high court had on November 29, 2017 directed the state government to stop all sand mining and quarrying activities in Tamil Nadu within six months and not open any new sand quarries. The government should take a decision to import river sand by the state-owned corporation in order to meet the demand in the state if there were no legal impediments, it had said. Subsequently, in December, the Tamil Nadu government issued an order stating that sale of imported ordinary sand or that brought from other states or Union Territories for construction purposes shall be done only by the PWD. The petitioner contended that the regulation of imported sand or that brought from other states was the sole prerogative of the Centre. Alleging that the Tamil Nadu government was trying to usurp the legislative field of the central government through the impugned government order, the petitioner said the Centre has also framed an "Import Policy on Sand" as updated from time to time, which does not prohibit sale or consumption of imported sand. The petitioner also stated that the government has ignored the fact that free import, transportation and storage of sand for own use or sale would solve one of the most grave problems of the public as well as the construction and infrastructure sector. He further submitted that there is no restriction on any other construction material to be imported, transported, stored to be used for own purposes or to be sold to public and similarly sand, which is also construction material cannot be restricted. The government has failed to understand that the restrictions imposed will result in monopoly, hoarding and black marketing of the sand, the petitioner said. Hence, he sought to quash the government order and prayed for a consequential direction to permit transportation, storage and sale of same imported sand from other countries, and that brought from other states, Union Territories for construction purposes to Tamil Nadu.
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