It’s common for governments to release full-page advertisements in the leading dailies to mark the launch of a scheme or a project or an important occasion but the Andhra Pradesh government has done something unusual.
Leading dailies on Monday carried full front-page advertisements inserted by the Jagan Mohan Reddy government to inform people that sand is easily available.
The advertisement carries the names of 175 sand stock points along with the prescribed sand price. There is one stock point in each Assembly constituency with the price of sand ranging from Rs 410 to Rs 1,590 per tonne.
“Jagan government is committed to eliminate sand mafia completely,” declares the ad with pictures of Chief Minister Y. S. Jagan Mohan Reddy and his father and late Chief Minister Y. S. Rajasekhara Reddy.
It also carries a toll free number for people to complain against anyone indulging in corruption or trying to sell sand at a price higher than the prescribed price.
There is also a warning that no person shall hoard/resale/black market or stock beyond his reasonable requirement. “Penalties for violations include a fine of Rs 2 lakh and also imprisonment up to 2 years.”
The ad, which claims that around 2 lakh tonne of sand is being supplied daily, came amid the raging controversy in the state over shortage of sand.
The opposition parties have been targeting the YSR Congress Party (YSRCP) government for its failure to deal with the sand scarcity, which has badly hit the construction sector.
According to the opposition, the scarcity has led to suicides by 50 construction workers, who resorted to the extreme step as they were unable to find work. The opposition alleged that lakhs of workers were rendered jobless.
Leader of opposition and Telugu Desam Party (TDP) chief N. Chandrababu Naidu, who observed a day-long fast over the issue, alleged that the scarcity was man-made as the YSRCP leaders were running a sand mafia with the patronage of Jagan Mohan Reddy.
The ruling party rubbished the allegations and pointed out that the scarcity was due to floods but in recent days the government took many steps to improve availability of sand.
Meanwhile, Jana Sena Party (JSP) leader and popular actor Pawan Kalyan has reacted to the advertisements in newspapers.
“JSP wholeheartedly thanks all the media, individuals and other political stakeholders for making YCP leader Sri Jagan Reddy to realise his deliberate mistakes in sand policy which killed 50 workers & making 35 lakh construction workers jobless,” Pawan tweeted on Monday.
“I urge all Janasainiks to keep a watch on illicit sand mining as the fight on sand corruption has just started,” said Pawan, who led a massive long march over the issue in Visakhapatnam.
After coming to power in May this year, the Jagan Mohan Reddy government had scrapped the sand policy implemented during the TDP rule and banned sand extraction on the ground that the TDP leaders were resorting to corruption by controlling the sand business.
The ban on sand extraction and floods created the shortage.
Promising to provide sand at low cost from government-owned stockyards, the Jagan government introduced a new policy on September 5.
Under this policy, state-owned AP Mineral Development Corporation (APMDC) Ltd will undertake sand quarrying and supply sand to the customers on behalf of the government at the stockyards set up across the state.
The consumers were asked to book the sand online and it was also announced that the movement of trucks will be tracked to prevent black marketing, hoarding and artificial supply shortage.