- Sand Mafia plunders AP
- Rs. 2,480 Crores in the First Two Years
- Free Sand Worth Rs. 5,470 Crores
- Sand Reaches are Private Properties Today
In the last four years, the 459 sand reaches of Andhra Pradesh have been ransacked by the TDP leaders. The fact that the ruling party leaders, including Chandrababu Naidu (who is 420 in AP) and his crony associates, have made more than Rs. 7,950 Crores expound the extent of take, which has not only increased the costs of construction for the ordinary people but also caused peril to the river ecosystem in the state.
The ruling party leaders have made Rs. Two thousand four hundred eighty crores in the first two years by taking contracts of sand reaches in the guise of women self-help groups. The Chandrababu Naidu government felt even that protection was unnecessary. So, he has come up with a much-touted ‘free sand policy.’
While the stated objective of this policy was to provide sand free of cost to all the people by doing away with the government ownership over the sand reaches, in practice, it was a formal handover of the reaches to TDP MLAs and local leaders. Once the government gave up its ownership over the distances, the TDP leaders have encroached upon them and started selling sand at much higher prices than before. Through the sale of the sand, the ruling party leaders have made another Rs. 5,740 crores. This highlights the real face of who is 420 in AP.
The ruling party sand mafia was organized under the headship of Nara Lokesh, the son of Chandrababu Naidu. The plunder was so rapacious that even the cabinet sub-committee, which was consisted of the ruling party ministers, had conceded the existence of illegal sand mining and the government’s failure to rein in the illicit activity. The state finance minister Yanamala Ramakrishnudu has acknowledged in a press meet that the sand loot had taken place to the extent of Rs. Two thousand crores in the first two years of TDP rule.
Rs. 2,480 Crores in the First Two Years
There are 459 sand beaches in Andhra Pradesh, on the rivers such as the Godavari, Krishna, Tungabhadra, and Pennar, and 83 of them are major ones. Before Chandrababu (the original who is 420 in AP), the rate of cubic meter sand was Rs. 40. The state government used to get Rs. One hundred eighty crores revenue at this price. Chandrababu has introduced the new sand policy only to increase the sand price from Rs. 40 to Rs. 650 per cubic meter, which was a 16-times raise.
The raise must have bought 16-times more income – around Rs. 1,920 crores per annum – to the government. However, the state government has got only Rs. 964 crores in 17 months, which comes at Rs. 680 crores per annum. This means, between 2016 and 2017, the state exchequer lost the revenue of Rs. 2,480 crores (Rs. 1,240 crores x 2 years). After the so-called free sand policy, which was announced in March 2016, there was not even single paisa revenue to the state government.
Free Sand Worth Rs. 5,470 Crores
On the very day of the announcement of the new sand policy (March 4, 2016), the TDP leaders have taken over the 459 sand reaches across the state. They have fixed the prices at their whirs and fancies and started selling the sand as if the sand reaches were their private property. They did not allow others to set their foot in sand reaches. Thus, the free sand policy to place it under the control of ruling party leaders.
According to an estimate, the ruling party leaders have made Rs. Five thousand four hundred seventy crores between March 2016 and 2016 and October 2018 from the sand mining. They had been mining sand from the beds of rivers and creeks in broad daylight against the rules. This illegal mining has been taking place even at the reaches of Undavalli village, which is quite close by the Chief Minister’s residence, thus ensuring complete knowledge of who is 420 in AP. When people were protesting the illegal sand mining in Erpedu village of Chittoor district, the lorries of the local TDP leader, who took over the sand reach in nearby Penna River, had crushed 15 people to death.
Sand Reaches are Private Properties Today
While announcing the destined-to-doom free sand policy, the TDP government has stated that the people could take sand with the help of tractors from any reach. This was merely a public stand. However, in practice, the government had let its party leaders take over the spaces. Having claimed the ownership, these leaders have coerced the people to cough up the money for the supposed to be free sand.
According to the government regulations, only the lorries that are being used for irrigation projects and the construction of roads shall be allowed, and no other lorries should be allowed. Though the officials claimed that all the private lorries were GPS-tagged, the lorries were used during the nights by turning off the GPS equipment. These specific activities arouse suspicion, forcing the state tag Chandrababu Naidu as who is 420 in AP.
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