India: Sand Substitutes Made Compulsary for Greener Construction


Seeking to strike a balance between growing needs of construction industryand environmental concerns to preserve river beds amid excessive sand mining, the government may opt for changing specifications of the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) to ensure substitutes of sand can be used by builders across the country.

Now, the BIS stipulates that the concrete can be made only with naturally accessed materials, making it impossible for the realty sector to rely on alternatives to sand like m-Sand (manufactured sand), copper slag, powdered glass and recycled construction waste among others which are increasingly being used in many EU nations, Singapore and the US.

“I am soon going to write to the BIS,” said the Union environment and forest minister Jayanthi Natarajan.

She told the TOI that there was a need to firm up views in this matter through consultations within government while keeping in mind growing environmental concerns.

It is learnt that her ministry will bat for promoting green construction norms that are being practiced in other parts of the globe.

Though the need to have a definite policy in this regard have long been expressed within and outside the government by proponents of sustainable growth, the recent episode of Gautam Budh Nagar district in Uttar Pradesh where the then local subdivisional magistrate (SDM) Durga Sakthi Nagpal had brought the instances of large scale illegal mining into focus by taking action against sand miners in July.

The national green tribunal (NGT) had subsequently restrained sand mining across the country without taking environmental clearance for mine lease area irrespective of its size.

The move gave a new impetus to the ongoing debate on how to strike a balance between economic needs of the infrastructure sector and environmental concerns. Such debate has again brought into light the demand for necessary changes in BIS regulations so that substitutes of sand can be used in construction.

The m-Sand is the widely accepted substitute to sand in many countries. It is produced by grinding stone gravel and boulders. Besides m-Sand, builders in Hong Kong use powdered glass as a substitute for sand. On the other hand, Singapore uses copper slag (a by-product of copper production) whereas US uses all these alternatives including furnace slag.

Environmentalists across the globe are in favour of such locally viable alternatives by pointing out how the sand depletion from river beds is bad for ecology and safety of settlements along the rivers.

Source: Times of India

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