The usage of manufactured sand (M-sand), considered a substitute for river sand for construction, has picked up in Tiruchi.

Acute shortage of river sand, concern over exploitation of rivers for sand mining, litigation against sand quarrying and steep hike in prices have forced the attention of builders on sourcing M-sand and plastering sand (P-sand) for construction activities. The priority accorded by the government to promote M-sand as an alternative in official buildings has also influenced them in making the shift.

Some builders, who began to use M-sand as a temporary measure, now prefer it. Ditto with individuals, who obsessed with river sand for construction.

“We no longer wait for river sand for construction as there is no problem in sourcing M-sand. It is in no way inferior to river sand,” says A. Ganesan, a building contractor in Woraiyur.

In fact, it is cheaper, say market sources. A load (four units) of M-sand is available for ₹15,000 in Tiruchi. The rate of P-sand hovers around ₹16,000. River sand costs about ₹35,000 a load.

Although the rate is more than double for river sand, there are still takers for it. But individual house owners, fed up with delay in supply of river sand, are now opting for M-sand.

Mr. Ganesan says sale of M-sand has become an organised trade with intermediaries for supply. Several lorry owners have adiverted their vehicles for transporting M-sand. Besides sourcing M-sand from crushers in Perambalur and Pudukottai districts, builders receive loads from Karur district too.

T.V. Murali, former president, Confederation of Real Estate Developers Association, Tiruchi, says Tiruchi is blessed with the availability of high quality sand in the Cauvery. It was unfortunate that the people cannot use river sand. Builders and people have been forced to depend upon M-sand, which is, however, equally good.

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