Port Blair, July 25: Mr. Kuldeep Rai Sharma, Member of Parliament has written a letter to the Lt. Governor mentioning his agony after seeing a tender notice published in the Daily Telegram on 18th July 2019 that, the ANIIDCO Ltd; on behalf of the Administration is in the process of importing about 5.50 lakh cubic meter of stone aggregates from mainland through private agencies, purportedly on a quarterly basis. He was shocked with the fact that, the Administration has resorted to this radical step by doing away with the existing quarry operation in these Islands without even intimating the stakeholders or any prior notice.
Member of Parliament has apprised the Lt Governor of the huge socio-economic impact these islands would be forced to stare at if the plan to import materials at 300% over local price fructifies.
The MP mentioned that in the socio-economic aspect, the proposed move would be a disaster for the local population. The quarry operations which stand stalled since 16th June 2019 due to non-renewal of license has directly and indirectly rendered more than 10000 labours jobless leaving their dependent family members and school going children badly affected.
“ More than a hundred entrepreneurs who are directly involved in the operation of quarries, crushing units and stone material vending business would be rendered bankrupt while also affecting allied units like machinery workshops, spare part shops, mechanics, welders, fuel vendors etc thereby making its employees jobless. Existing government projects would see huge cost overrun as the estimated cost of projects would have to be altered to adjust with the price rise of materials. Entrepreneurs throughout the islands comprising 74 quarry operators and 125 crushing units would risk losing their livelihood due to stoppage of quarry operations and in that event, they would not be in a position to repay their bank credits to the tune of crores leading to increased NPA with banks,” the MP mentioned.
He said that with limited handling capacity, local ports would be crowded with incessant movement of quarry materials leaving scarce or no leeway for movement of essential commodities. This might create artificial food inflation in the local market. Besides, frequent movement of cargo vehicles in and out of the ports would deteriorate the road infrastructure requiring frequent repair and renovation of major roads connecting the ports with other parts of the city.
“When it comes to fragile bio-diversity of these Islands, proposed import of quarry materials from mainland would introduce many invasive species of flora and fauna into these islands only to threaten the native species. With about 560cr planned to be spent on procurement and import of materials alone from mainland, Island’s coffers would be left with insufficient resources for undertaking other developmental works,” the MP added.
He said that the administration would be spending an amount of Rs. 140.00 Cr (220.00 Cr – 80.00 CR) per quarter over and above what is being incurred now. It means that, annually an amount of Rs. 560.00 crores would be spent on importing materials.
This additional cost of Rs. 560 CR invested by ANIIDCO Ltd; will be recovered by the consumers who are basically the Islanders and the Government agencies, thereby increasing the financial burden on individual and on government exchequer respectively. In contrary local quarries when allowed to function fetches an annual income of about Rs. 60.00 crore to the administration by way of royalty besides ensuring employment to thousands and enabling availability of materials at affordable prices for common man.
“In view of the above apprehensions, the introduction of the proposed plan to import stone aggregates from mainland would have adverse socio-economic impact over these islands. Therefore, I look forward to your kind intervention into the matter for withdrawal of the tender notice and to allow the functioning of local quarries in the interests of socio- economic development of these Islands,” Mr. Kuldeep Rai Sharma mentioned.