BANGALORE: Ongoing civil work taken up by government contractors has been hit, thanks to the sand lorry strike for the past four days. The
truckers who are protesting over issues like permits, royalty and harassment by police, have cut sand supply to the city which survives on the construction industry.
Nearly 1,000 sand lorries that used to enter the city daily from Kollegal, Hassan, Holenarasipura and Devanahalli have stopped plying. The worst hit has been government-commissioned civic projects like roads, drains and bridges, where contractors cannot afford to buy sand in black market.
Government officials said contractors handling massive projects are sailing through as they have back-up sand stock. “Government contractors cannot afford to buy sand in black market, hence have either stopped work or are going slow to pull through for some more time with the available material,” they said.
Prices of sand available have increased — river sand which is called filter sand, earlier cost Rs 11,000-15,000 per load, but is now priced at Rs 20,000. The course sand, drawn from agriculture lands and quarry, is not available anymore. Nearly 20% of sand supply to Bangalore is filter sand.
The big projects are sustaining for now, with adequate sand stock. The biggest infrastructure work in Bangalore — the Metro rail — is not yet affected. The BMRC claims work hasn’t been hit as contractors get sand from the source which goes through rigorous tests, and only after getting certified, is used for construction.
BMRC officials said: “Currently, there is no problem. If the strike continues for another week or 10 days, it might affect.”
Primarily, drain work is going slow as some of the contractors have exhausted sand, and with sky-rocketing prices, they are not venturing into buying fresh stock. “As it is, we quote prices lesser than that published by PWD and cannot go in for high investment in black market. In some areas, we have stopped drainage work; it will resume once the strike is withdrawn,” said a representative of BBMP contractors association.