Bengaluru: Minister for Mines and Geology Vinay Kulkarni on Saturday refuted allegations made by Leader of Opposition in Assembly R Jagadish Shettar in procuring sand from Malaysia for distribution in the state through Mysore Sales International Limited (MSIL).
“The whole process of sand procurement is transparent. The objective of the procurement is to preserve natural resources in Karnataka and put an end to sand mafia,’’ Minister Kulkarni told reporters at Vikasa Soudha.
Jagadish Shettar on Tuesday has described the procurement of sand from Malaysia as a scam to loot Rs 5,850 crore with connivance of senior officials of MSIL.
“Only 935 tonnes of sand worth Rs 37 lakh is procured till date. The procurement of sand will depend on the demand. Shettar has alleged a scam of Rs 5,850 crore while the and worth Rs 37 lakh is procured,’’ the minister said.
Blaming Shettar for making allegations only for the sake of making allegations, the minister said the Leader of Opposition has made this allegations with an eye on the forthcoming Assembly elections.
He said the imported sand would cost Rs 2,300 per tonne.
The minister has said the decision to procure sand from Malaysia would stop illegal sand mining by the sand mafia.
“I can not rule out the role of the sand mafia in influencing Jagadish Shettar to make such baseless allegations against Congress government. Shettar, being a businessman, can recommend his relatives or supporters to participate in the bidding for procurement of sand from Malaysia,’’ he said.
He said the mines and geology department has received seven to eight applications from private companies seeking permission to procure sand from Malaysia. “Any private company can participate in the process of procurement of sand. We are yet to go through the applications seeking permission for import of sand,’’ he said.
Difference between M-sand and river sand
The minister said there is a lot of difference between manufactured sand (M-sand) and river sand (natural rand) when it comes to quality and cost.
“One cannot use M-sand for plastering of walls. It can be used for constructing concrete roads. The quality of M-sand is low when compared with natural sand. So, the price of natural sand is more than the M-sand,’’ he said.
The minister said that no effort was made to fill up vacancies in mines and geology department for the last 25 years.
“We have taken measures to fill up around 400 vacancies (geologists and mine engineers) through Karnataka Public Service Commission,’’ the minister said.