PETALING JAYA: India’s Kerala state government has agreed to the import of sand from Malaysia for construction purposes to meet supply shortages and address the environmental implications of river sand mining there.
The Hindu daily reported today that the decision was made at a high-level meeting chaired by Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan.
Besides Malaysia, sand will also be imported from countries such as Vietnam and Cambodia.
According to the report, the meeting noted that there was no legal obstacle for the import of sand, which has been sanctioned by the central government for passage through the Kochi port.
Although an import permit from the state mining and geology department is required, the daily said the department would issue the necessary documents to those who wished to carry out sand imports.
It added that only a fraction of the state’s demand for sand was being met from domestic sources, resulting in a crisis in the construction industry and a sharp increase in sand prices.
This followed reports last month that the states of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu had already begun negotiations with Malaysian firms on the import of sand from Malaysian rivers.
On Aug 9, Natural Resources and Environment Minister Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar was reported by theSun daily as saying that Putrajaya had yet to grant approval for any company in the country to export sand to India.
Several quarters also voiced concerns over the negative impact any deal might have on Malaysia’s environment and natural resources.
However, Karnataka law minister TB Jayachandra said his government would go ahead and finalise the name of the bidder supplying the sand from Malaysia.
A report by the Bangalore Mirror said although Jayachandra had read a Malaysian media report on Wan Junaidi’s stand, he insisted that the bidder “had participated in the bidding process because he has the legal permission to export sand” from Malaysia.