M-sand is fast emerging as an alternative to sand. However, nearly 55% of the M-sand available in the city is either of poor quality or largely quarry dust.

Stressing on the need for greater awareness about M-sand and its use for construction, experts at a recent meeting held here discussed various aspects of M-sand, the demand, quality and cost.

The meeting on ‘Innovative materials for low-cost housing: alternative to river sand’ was organised jointly by the Indian Concrete Institute and Terwillinger Centre for Innovation in Shelter, a knowledge centre and an arm of Habitat for Humanity, an international non-governmental organisation.

Alternative material

Pointing out that 90% of residents in Chennai and neighbouring districts are prepared to use M-sand for concreting, Pandian Kalaimani, cluster In-charge, Quality, Ultratech Cement, said that there is hesitation on using it for plastering.

While M- sand is growing as alternative material to river sand, 80% of units in and around the city are manufacturing it in a two-stage process, skipping the vertical shaft impactor crushers. This would only lead to production of substandard material, Mr. Kalaimani warned. Various advantages, including affordability and durability, of M-sand and challenges of water-intensive production were discussed.

While G. Sivakumar, Managing Director, Institute for Construction Materials and Technologies, elaborated on test procedures and how to identify poor quality sand, Deepak Viswanathan, senior technical advisor, Terwillinger Centre for Innovation in Shelter, spoke on the need to provide skills to workers on use of M-sand.

The demand for river sand in Tamil Nadu is 70 million tonnes per year.

But, only 18 million tonnes of river sand are available per year.

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