Reduction in imprisonment among suggestions for change
The Public Works Department has submitted the final draft of the M-sand policy, to the government, earlier this week, after incorporating changes sought by various stakeholders. The policy is expected to come into force by March or April.
The Department has recommended a reduction in the imprisonment period for violations, to one year, instead of the earlier two years. This follows representations from stakeholders, including associations for M-sand manufacturing units and lorry owners, during the second round of meeting.
With the mushrooming of M-sand manufacturing units and the growing demand, the Department has accelerated the process to streamline trade.
PWD officials said the imprisonment period, for various violations, had been recommended as a year. However, the fine levied would vary depending on the case of violations. For instance, manufacturing units found operating without licence renewal or quality approval would be levied a fine of ₹5 lakh, attracting one-year imprisonment.
If quarry operators or crusher units are found guilty of issuing forged certificates to M-sand manufacturing units, they will also attract a year of imprisonment. “We have agreed to suggestions of issuing transit passes to transporters and setting up surveillance cameras in the units. Manufacturing units will be held responsible for overloading of vehicles and transport of wet sand. This will help curtail violations at the source point,” said an official.
The Department has also extended the period to renew PWD licences, from three to five years. M-sand is now being used in 80%-90% of construction activity. There are nearly 1,200 units functioning across the State. However, only about 270 have been approved by the PWD for product quality. While 67 applications are under scrutiny, about 400 have been identified as operating without approval. Once the policy is in place, PWD will have more powers to control adulteration, said officials.
Noting that there may be size variations in M-sand due to sudden repairs, K. Chinnaswamy, president, Tamil Nadu Stone Quarry, Crushers and Lorry Owners’ Association, said PWD must initially provide them a timeframe to rectify repairs and take action if poor quality is detected again.
Many of the 1,000 units were unable to get PWD’s approval for quality, as process for quarry lease and consent from the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board is being delayed, he added.
On price control, officials said it was under discussion, as the trade was dominated by private players. Discussions are on to form a committee to take measures when abnormal rates are quoted.
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