The Tamil Nadu government, on Friday, opened bookings for the online sale of the stock of imported sand kept at the Thoothukudi port. In its website, the TN government has displayed a notice, listing the prices per unit of sand that was imported from Malaysia. One unit of sand is priced at Rs 9,990 while five units are priced at Rs 49,950. The website also mentions that sand will be sold to anybody who books it online, irrespective of which state the buyer belongs to.
The bookings can be made through the website and also through the TN Sand Mobile app. This marks the end of a dispute between the Tamil Nadu government and a private company from Pudukkottai, which is the importer of the sand from Malaysia.
A Pudukkottai-based private company had struck a deal with a Singapore-based company to import river sand quarried in Malaysia. The first consignment of around 55,000 tonnes of sand landed at the VOC Port in Thoothukudi in October 2017. The issue began when the lorries hired by the company to transport the imported sand to the customers were seized by the Aralvaimozhi police. The reason for seizure was a Government Order issued by the state that said imported sand cannot be sold within Tamil Nadu.
The seized sand was sent to the Assistant Director of Geology and Mines; meanwhile, the District Collector of Thoothukudi ordered the port to not release the remaining stock of sand from the port.
The Madras High Court had earlier banned the quarrying of sand in the state and restricted the state from opening any new sand quarries. The TN government filed an appeal against this order in the Supreme Court, saying that this move by the High Court would be disastrous to construction activities in the state, since sand was a basic raw material. It also submitted to the apex court that it would regulate the sand trade in the state.
Meanwhile, the company filed a petition at the Supreme Court saying that it was aggrieved by Tamil Naduâ€™s policy to not sell imported sand in the state. It also submitted that the company had adhered to all the requirements according to the Central governmentâ€™s policy on importing sand.
The TN government also submitted that the High Courtâ€™s move will encourage the import of sand, which will be expensive for those in need and sought that the High Courtâ€™s order be quashed. It also stated that while it cannot allow the imported sand to be sold in the state, it has no problem with the importer selling the sand to other states.
In July, however, the state government stated in the apex court that it was willing to buy the sand that was lying in the Thoothukudi port for use within the state and that a committee would meet the representative of the importer company to arrive at a mutually agreeable price.
The importer and the government are yet to decide on a negotiated price for the sand and the court on Thursday has given a weekâ€™s time for both the parties to come to an agreement regarding the transaction value for the deal.