The State government’s recently launched ‘sand taxi policy’ – purportedly to check to State-wide illegal sand mining – seems to have got stuck in sand in the district. So much so that, prestigious projects like Mission Bhagiratha, 2BHK housing scheme for the poor, and Individual House-hold Latrine (IHHL) scheme under the Swachh Bharat Mission could suffer from time over-runs and poor quality of construction.

Reason .. shoddy implementation of the policy.

A month after the launch of the policy, construction activity by contractors, and private procurement of sand is going on at a snail’s pace, officials at a recent review meeting here said.

Contractors too poured out their woes in procuring sand. The issue that went unnoticed by officials till date — and which was raised by contractors is — the quality and quantity of the sand delivered.

“We pay Rs. 2,500 for three cubic metres of sand (a tractor load), but only two cubic metres of it is delivered. And the sand is coarse, not suitable for Mission Bhagiratha work,” was the common complaint of most of the contractors present.

And with the sand taxi’s web portal showing only gram panchayats as delivery points, delivering sand in habitations, sometimes 5- km. away, is not happening.

The other complaints of contractors are that they are unable to select sand reaches, amount payable calculated for longer distances, tractors operated without way bills, SMSs not delivered, and tractor drivers unwilling to accept the job.

All these expose the administration’s unpreparedness and failure to learn from districts that are already implementing the policy.

However, Collector Gaurav Uppal dismissed them as “just the initial hiccups”, and added that the policy has so far generated Rs. 2.5 crore, which will be used to streamline the initiative soon.

District Superintendent of Police A.V. Ranganath wondered if the whole system is being provided with the needed maintenance to make it work effectively. “I’ve called the helpline once, it just said — out of order. Are we also taking the reports of Management Information System (MIS)?,” he asked.

In a bid to plug the holes, the meeting however decided to form a committee to look into the various problems, including standardisation of the quality

– coarse or fine sand — by enabling contractors to sand reaches, also quantity, by standardising and certifying tractors if they are actually filled to 3 cu.m.

Till date, of the total 9,132 tractor jobs agreed, 6,704 loads have been delivered, officials informed.

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