Port Blair, July 8: The Adhyaksh, Zilla Parishad, South Andaman, Shri Subir Chander in a letter addressed to the Lt. Governor has taken up the issue of exorbitant rate charged for sand imported from mainland. The cost of construction materials have shot up the roof in our islands for the past couple of years. Adding insult to injury, the cost of sand also has escalated indiscriminately!

It is a paradox that we are surrounded by sea sand, still we have to buy sand brought from mainland for construction activities. We have large number of sand-pockets with huge quantity of sand. Nevertheless, adhering to the policy of the Administration not to extract sea sand from these islands considering the fragile eco-system the general public has been buying sand at exorbitant rates from the sand mafia, who are looting the public.

It is a very sorry state of affairs that the Administration has miserably failed to regulate the rate of sand in our islands, against the interest of the public of these islands. This has given birth to a general notion among the public that the Administration is hand in gloves with the sand mafia because of which the rate of sand is increasing unabatedly.

There is a public outrage against the ever-increasing rates of sand in the islands. One wonders, how such a huge quantity of sand is being brought to these islands without being regulated! Valid questions are being raised whether these sand-mafias are paying GST against the rates charged from the public! This is a perfect instance of large-scale tax-evasion causing huge loss to the state exchequer!

It is therefore requested to your esteemed office to form a committee to study the matter and submit a report in this regard so as to regulate the rate of sand in the islands. The committee may be constituted involving representatives from Revenue Department, Public Representatives from Zilla Parishad & Gram Panchayats, One Technical official and a representative from the Pollution Control Board and others, if any. The expenditure incurred by the parties bringing sand from mainland may be meticulously worked out including their other expenditure involved and a reasonable margin so as to work out the reasonable rate of sand in public interest. There should be clear transparency in this matter. This should form the base of regulating the rate of sand in the islands. This is pertinent by all means to de-escalate the rate of sand to an affordable level for the people from the lower strata.