Malaysian company to export sand to India

PETALING JAYA: A Malaysian company has been shortlisted for the export of sand to India. The exported sand will be available in Bengaluru in the Indian southern state of Karnataka at Rs 175 (RM11.75) for a 50-kilogramme bag.

The Karnataka state government hopes that the Malaysian export will ensure availability of sand at an affordable price, the Deccan Herald news portal reported today.

"The company has emerged as the most competitive bidder having quoted an all-inclusive price of Rs 3,450 per tonne," Law Minister T B Jayachandra was quoted by the portal as saying on Monday.

He declined to name the company as the process was still under way.

"This works out to about Rs 35,000 per truckload of sand, which is way cheaper than the current price in the state," he said.

Jayachandra said this will also help conserve the state's natural resources.

The report said the state government had floated a global tender through the Mysore Sales International Ltd (MSIL), in the wake of sand shortage and skyrocketing prices. MSIL is the nodal agency tasked with procurement and distribution of imported sand.

"We are in talks with the railways to set up yards where the imported sand will be stored and sold," Jayachandra said. "We also plan to have 200 lorries stationed at strategic locations to sell the sand."

Meanwhile, the Times of India reported that Southeast Asian countries can become a happy hunting ground for sand-starved Tamil Nadu as Malaysia and Cambodia offer river sand at one-third the price prevailing in the south Indian state.

The Builders Association of India (BAI) is holding talks with a private firm in both the countries to import river sand. BAI has about 12,000 builders as its members across Tamil Nadu.

BAI's southern centre honorary secretary S Ramaprabhu said river sand from Malaysia would come in handy to overcome the current crisis in the state where sand prices touched record levels.

"The reality is that quality river sand is not available even though buyers are ready to pay Rs 120 per cubic feet. Against this backdrop, importing sand will help to make the availability of quality river sand for constructions at affordable rates," the Times of India quoted him as saying.

"We can also import upto 6 lakh tonnes per month, as two more agencies can be roped in for importing sand from Malaysia. This can meet the demand of Chennai to a certain extent with an advantage of reducing the exploitation of sand mined from our rivers," he said.

Malaysia imposed a ban on sand exports in 1997, but Malaysian media have previously reported instances of sand smuggling.