Notably, after an acute shortage of sand in Punjab following the ban on its mining, five trucks of sand were imported for the first time from Pakistan via Attari land border last week. Custom officials had held these trucks, wanting clearance from the Quarantine Department and the Ministry of Environment.
“A local businessman had imported five trucks of sand from Pakistan. The Customs Department has seized the truck, and will release them only after the Quarantine Department issues a clearance certificate,” says a source.
“The Department has to send the samples to laboratories to get the sand tested,” he says.
“None of the traders have imported sand from Pakistan after the seizure, fearing a delay in the import of their consignment too,” he says.
“Earlier, we wrote to local Quarantine authorities to get clearance, but we did not get any response. We have now written to the Quarantine authorities in Faridabad, and are waiting for their response. It will take another three days’ time to get clearance,” said a superintendent officer at the Customs Department, requesting anonymity.
“We are already facing problems due to non-availability of sand. Many projects are stuck due to the lack of availability of sand, and its consequently becoming very expensive. It has become difficult for us to survive in the business of construction after the ban on the sand mining in Punjab,” says Joginder Singh, a builder in Amritsar.
“The government should either lift the ban on the mining operation of sand or relax the norms for importing it from Pakistan,” says Rajat Sharma, another Amritsar builder.
“This delay in clearance might spoil the budding relations between the traders of both countries. The government must take measures to prevent the destruction of ties between the traders,” Sharma says.