AHMEDABAD: The stopping of sand mining in Gujarat is expected to dent the construction industry in a major way. Following National Green Tribunal's (NGT) order, builders in the state are expecting the cost of raw materials to hit the roof.
"If the supply of sand stops because of the order, the real estate industry will suffer. Even the ancillary industry that is dependent on the construction sector will suffer. We expect the government to allow the sand miners a year's time to procure licences, instead of stopping it immediately," said Vijay Shah, a veteran realtor.
NGT banned the mining of sand from rivers across the country without requisite approvals. The unorganized sector came under the scanner amid the controversy over the UP government suspending IAS officer Durga Shakti Nagpal who had taken on illegal sand mining business in the state.
Developers feel that the ban will encourage black marketing and give a fillip to the sand mafia besides increasing property prices.
"Builders will be forced to pay double the cost for one cubic feet of sand. Apart from builders, labourers, artisans and engineers will also suffer. The industry will have to look for alternative materials," said another city-based developer.
The order is expected to affect all government and private schemes in the state. "The government has already announced affordable housing projects. If sand is not available, the projects will not start. Besides, in six months, other costs will go up including material and labour costs, so the government may not be able to provide affordable houses at promised rates," said Shah.
In September, NGT sought a response of Gujarat government on a plea alleging illegal mining going in the state in "brazen violation" of the Supreme Court and NGT's directions. The order came on a petition filed by Haryana-based agriculturist Virender Singh Choudhary who alleged that the state has granted contracts permitting removal of sand up to a depth of 10 meters from river beds as against the three meter or water level depth recommended by the apex court.
The petition sought directions to the state "to prohibit with immediate effect any mining, river bed or otherwise, of minor minerals, including sand, in any manner without following the procedure established by law."