Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, May 26:
With rules for extraction of minor minerals having been made stringent following Supreme Court directives, there is acute shortage of these materials affecting construction work both in the private and government sectors in Odisha.
Acting on the Supreme Court directive, the state government has ordered that leaseholders cannot extract minor minerals like sand, stones, boulder, morrum etc without approval of mining plans for the same.
Though tehsildars in different areas of the state have auctioned sand and stone quarries, extraction of these minor minerals has not been possible even at the fag-end of May due to delay in getting approval of mining plans resulting in acute shortage of sand, stones, boulders, morrum etc. In some places these materials are available at high prices while it is being sold illegally at others.
With rains approaching, construction work both in the private and government sector. especially strengthening of river embankments for flood control and completion of bridges and culverts, is in full swing. Similarly, private individuals too are in a hurry to complete construction work before the rains.
Work on the Baleswar-Kharagpur national highway No. 60 has been halted due to non-availability of sand. Stone packing in the River Subarnarekha embankment cannot be completed before rains as stones and boulders are not available. The situation is no different in Mayurbhanj, Keonjhar and other districts of the state.
Construction work in the government sector has come to a standstill. All engineering departments in the state are worried over the prevailing situation and are learnt to have sought the intervention of the government in the matter.
Reliable sources said officers have informed their departmental heads that repair of river embankments etc. cannot be completed under such circumstances before floods.
In some areas, the rate of sand has gone up from Rs 500 to Rs 1000 per trip/truckload while that of stone has gone up to Rs 500 per trip/truckload.
Most important of all contractors who have got contracts are not inclined to procure materials at such high rates. Doubts have been cast over completion of works before rains.
Surprisingly, the state government is sitting over the issue. Though subordinate rank officers have apprise their higher-ups about the problem, no action has been taken yet. Neither the Revenue department nor the Steel & Mines department has shown any urgency in the matter.