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Developers bank on Pakistan sand to build Mumbai dreams

Shortage of sand in the city has compelled developers to import the building material from Pakistan.

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Shortage of sand in the city has compelled developers to import the building material from Pakistan. One of the city developers has already imported sand from the neighbouring country and others will follow suit soon.

Mumbai-based Nahar Builder and Developer imported ten containers of sand from Pakistan recently. “There is tremendous shortage of sand which is affecting our housing projects. We cannot stop our construction activities. So, we decided to import sand from Pakistan to carry on the projects. We have invested so much and customers have also paid money. Our first consignment arrived recently,” said Sukhraj Nahar.

Sources said one truckload of sand imported from Pakistan costs Rs10,000. However, in Mumbai, it costs more than Rs15,000. “It is mainly transporting expenditure. The government had also imported onion when onion prices skyrocketed. Earlier this year, a Chennai developer had imported cement from Pakistan because of the high rate of cement in India. This move helped decrease the prices of cement and onion. I hope brining sand from Pakistan will also ease sand prices,” he said, requesting anonymity.

Sand was earlier available at Rs3,000 per truck containing 2.5 brass (one brass equals to 100 cubic feet). This is now Rs15,000.

“Even at this high rate, it’s difficult to get sand. That is badly affecting our ongoing projects. Without supply of sand, we cannot carry out any projects. As a temporary arrangement, we have started importing sand from Pakistan. It is easily available there, but we need to bear the transport cost,” said Sunil Mantri, president of Maharashtra Chamber of Housing Industry (MCHI).

At present, 1,000 truckloads of sand are coming into the city each day against a demand of 5,000 truckloads. The sand situation worsened from the last year after the high court decided to ban dredging of sand in the state. The decision came after environmentalists and local residents expressed concern that excessive dredging would disturb the ecological balance. Though the court stay has been lifted, the sand auction process is moving at a snail’s pace. So, it is neither easing the soaring sand prices nor making sufficient quantity of sand available.

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