River sand is a natural resource that is used in a variety of construction projects. In the state of Kerala, the demand for river sand has increased significantly in recent years due to the construction boom. This has led to illegal sand mining and the unregulated sale of sand, which has resulted in a number of problems, including environmental degradation, price volatility, and corruption.
The SAND Project
The SAND project is an e-governance initiative that was launched by the Thrissur district administration in 2008 to address the problems associated with river sand mining and distribution. The project uses a web-based software system to manage the sand mining and distribution process in a transparent and efficient manner.
The SAND system has a number of features, including:
- A centralized database of all sand mining sites and their production capacity
- A reservation system that allows users to reserve sand in advance
- A real-time tracking system that monitors the movement of sand from the mining site to the end user
- A pricing mechanism that ensures that sand is sold at a fair price
Impact of the SAND Project
The impact of this system has been felt in the regulation, ecology, mining, transport and supply of scarce resources. Some of these are:
- Sand for construction is available at reasonable prices with reduced interference from middlemen and the sand mafia.
- Price of a truckload has been drastically reduced from ₹25,000 to ₹4,750. Restricts river sand mining and river bank erosion.
- All activities are carried out online and citizens have to only visit once to collect passes. Labour charges are regulated and distributed centrally.
- Vehicles are registered and maintained for distribution with smart cards which has reduced the number of accidents.
The SAND project is a successful example of how e-governance can be used to address the challenges of natural resource management. The project has helped to improve the efficiency, transparency, and accountability of the sand mining and distribution process in Thrissur district. The project has also helped to protect the environment and ensure that sand is available at a fair price for the people of Kerala.