He asserted that only the state will run the quarries and sell sand, including imported sand.
He said sand mining was recently banned in the light of Public interest litigation petitions in court and steps were now being taken to open quarries following a judgement in this regard.
Last November, the Madras High Court had directed the state government to halt sand quarrying within six months. The court had also said that no new mines and quarries should be opened. While a division bench upheld the single judge bench’s order in January, the Supreme Court last month stayed that order.
Against this background, Palaniswami, replying to Congress Legislature party leader K R Ramasamy, said it has been decided that only the government will sell sand and “steps are being taken to open quarries.” The Congress member said sand quarries were not opened and sought to know the status on the issue. Norms governing sand quarrying have been tightened and court guidelines in this regard were being followed, the Chief Minister said.
Tenders were called about 15 days ago and some quarries have been taken up for sand quarrying work by contractors. For other quarries, there were no takers and bids will be floated again tomorrow, he said.
CCTV cameras will be placed at sand loading and unloading points including yards and vehicles transporting them will be GPS-enabled to facilitate tracking by the government.
On importing sand from foreign countries, he said it will be done by private players, adding that only the government will sell imported sand varieties. Imported sand will be allowed for sale by the government after tests to ascertain its worthiness, he said.
There is no permission for private parties to sell sand and it will be done only by the government irrespective of whether it was procured locally or imported from other states or foreign nations, he said.