The Kerala Government on Wednesday decided to promote the import of river sand from other countries and states in order to ease the acute shortage of sand in the state.
The Kerala Minerals Development Corporation, a government agency, will regulate the import and supply of sand, said state chief minister VS Achuthanandan.
The government had earlier decided to mine the sand accumulated in various dams and selected Aruvikkara and Malampuzha dams for the purpose in Phase-I.
The chief minister said mining would commence from Aruvikkara dam in Thiruvananthapuram district next week. Construction industry has been affected due to the acute shortage of river sand in the state.
The uncontrolled sand mining from various rivers of the state had created severe environmental issues and caused destruction of rivers. The high court has banned mining of sand from rivers and this has made the shortage more severe. The construction industry in the state is now importing sand from states like Tamil Nadu and Gujarat at higher prices.
The state’s budget for 2009-10 had proposed to mine the sand from various dams and had set a target to collect Rs 500 crore through the sale of sand.
A feasibility study of taking out sand from Malampuzha dam in Palakkad district is being done.
Meanwhile, the Cabinet meeting held today decided to write off a debt of Rs 1,070 crore, owed by the state-owned Kerala State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC).
The government also announced various schemes to control the prices of essential commodities.
Ten Maveli Hotels, which sell food items at lower prices, will be opened in each district within two weeks.
The government also decided to sell rice at Rs 13 per kg to above poverty line (APL) card holders in addition to the regular rice quota they are currently getting. The below poverty line (BPL) card holders get rice at a price of Rs 2 per kg.