He said this addressing a media briefing in Polonnaruwa recently.
He said the three cube tipper load of sand which is dispatched from Manampitiya for Rs.12,000 is marketed for over 60,000 by the time it reaches Colombo.
Dudley Sirisena further noted, “I must state that at the time a litre of petrol was sold at Rs. 117, the people in Colombo could obtain three cubes of sand for a reasonable price of Rs. 30,000. Now it has doubled and the Geological Survey and Mines Bureau Chairman and all officials and the officials of the officials of the Manampitiya office should all be held responsible for this situation.
These persons are manipulating the sand business for their own benefit. The sand is not only sold at such exorbitant prices in Colombo, but it is the same as soon as these sand tippers reach Polonnaruwa and beyond. I urge the authorities to address this issue immediately, if not I intend to get the support of the people and take action against it.
The people who were engaged in sand mining are now out of work and the officials have issued permits to only a selected few. If these small scale sand minors are given jobs they could earn at least a few thousand a day. This issue not only affects them, but even the innocent people who are trying to build a home.
Invariably there are around 600 tippers come to the Manampitiya sand port on a daily basis to load sand. However, not even 10 tippers are loaded from the Polonnaruwa district. I can prove these charges. Having so much sand in the Polonnaruwa district, these officials should stop this game. If not the day that I will take action together with the people’s support is not far off.
If you look at the list of 200 permits issued by the Manampitiya sand company, there are 150 of them who sell off their permits for Rs. 10,000 and go home. Thereafter, when these outsiders buy the permit for 12,000 and load a tipper load of sand for 12,000 their cost is around 22,000. Even at this cost they still can sell a tipper load of sand for around Rs. 30,000. However, the Geological Survey and Mines Bureau officers have now begun sending tippers from Colombo to Manampitiya. Sand can be transported by train, but the railway department has not taken measures in this regard.”
I refute these allegations
When Sri Lanka Mirror contacted the Chairman of the Geological Survey and Mines Bureau W.M.A.S. Iddawela he said that as the demand is greater than the production it creates an artificial pricing. “However, we need to think of the environment as well. Hence, we have to issue sand based on the recommendations of the officials and engineers. Currently, the Yakkala housing project is underway and we provide sand at Rs. 13,500 as they don’t have to wait in line. Usually these tippers have to wait in the line for around five days to load the sand and they have to spend for their food etc. This also affects the pricing by the time it reaches Colombo.
Currently new permits have been issued to load sand from Trincomalee. However, the best solution for the sand issue is to clean sea sand for use. According to a survey conducted by the Moratuwa University, sea sand is the same as river sand once it is cleaned. If that can be done the price of sand would reduce significantly. Dudley Sirisena blames me, but we take sand from Polonnaruwa, after allocating the requirement in that district. Therefore, I refute these allegations levelled against me.”