River banks severely affected by sand miningJune 16, 2011, 10:06 pm
By Ifham Nizam
The country’s biodiversity, particularly river banks, were severely affected due to the large mining of sand from the rivers for construction purposes, Environment Minister Anura Priyadharshan Yapa said.
He told The Island that steps will soon be taken to restrict river sand mining for the betterment of both, humans and the environment.
He said: "We can’t continue to obtain sand for housing and building construction by mining for sand along the rivers."
According to Yapa the construction industry is finding it difficult to meet the demand of 10 million cubic metres annually with river sand alone, which is 90 per cent of the total supply.
He says the supply of 10 per cent sea sand has to be increased significantly if Sri Lanka is to meet the increasing demand for sand.
Minister Yapa added that the price of sand could be reduced if sea sand was available freely. One cube of river sand costs between Rs. 10,000 and Rs. 12,000 in the open market.
However, he believes strict monitoring of the sea sand mining is extremely necessary.
The Sri Lanka Land Reclamation and Development Corporation and the Building Materials Corporation were supplying sea sand for the construction industry but it was only 10 per cent of the total demand, he said.
He says sand mining has affected the smooth flow of water and sometimes has changed the natural course that the river took for centuries inducing erosion and floods.
Yapa believes the use of sea sand will have to be increased to protect the environment and biodiversity as sand mining particularly in the river banks had caused numerous problems in the country.
He says many countries use sea sand in the construction industry and Sri Lanka has no option but to turn to using sea sand for industrial and housing construction.
The Minister says that experiments have shown that there is no difference in quality if sea sand is used after washing it properly.
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