Political pressure is building on Naidu on rolling back what the chief minister once touted as revolutionary decision in empowering the women in the state. The government, which is not in a mood to displease contractors, is in principle said to have decided to take back the leases of sand mining from the women self-help groups (SHG). Rather than the women, these contractors play in strengthening the party network in rural areas. There are so powerful that, even if the leases are with the women, they could successfully force the women for illegal subleasing or threaten them to acquiesce to their activities. Even though last year, the sand mining yielded good revenue, it created more problems, because in many places, TDP leaders were involved in the illegal mining. Bitter after taste left by the controversy generated by the purported rude behavior of TDP MLA Chintamaneni Prabhakar towards MRO Vanajaskhi is said to have played bigger role in forcing the government to revisit its own decision to roll-back the leases given to the SHG. Though Naidu had to do a lot of home work to give clean chit to Chintmaneni Prabhakar, the controversy generated by his alleged attack highlighted two things: 1. one TDP leaders are involved in the sand related activities. 2. If there is no policy change it would expose the party to the political attacks from opposition parties. Vanajaskhi issue had got limited attention as the opposition YSRC party was busy in other important issues such as special status and land acquisition. As a solution to this, the government is mulling over to cancel the leases of Women groups and give them to the private parties. By this the government could please TDP leaders in a big way . For a party which is not able to provide rewards in the form of appointments in public sector bodies, sand mining leases could be an escapee route. According to sources a final decision will be taken in a week. The issue was discussed threadbare at the Cabinet meeting headed by Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu Thursday. Before announcing the rollback Naidu’s government will publish a white paper on sand mining and supply in the State while asking the people come up with suggestions to improve the system.
This was disclosed by none other than Achhannaidu, labor minister. He admitted sand mafia continued to exert its influence the sand mining. “Whether or not we need to revert to the earlier practice or are there any other ways to improve the present system were discussed,” Achhannaidu said.
The TDP government had handed over sand mining to the DWCRA women groups with a view to empowering them but the rules appeared to have increased sand shortages. Similarly, the ban on quarrying at night led to a decrease in sand excavation, which had a cascading impact on the construction industry is the explanation the government is planning put forth.
“The existing sand mining policy fetched more than Rs. 780 crore in a year compared to about Rs. 60 crore in combined Andhra Pradesh. Unlike earlier, a clear picture had emerged now on the number of ramps and reaches, and the sand available. The government was considering handing them over to private parties by auctioning the reaches,” the Minister said..