Sand from the Philippines and Indonesia
Posted on June 2nd, 2017

Garvin Karunaratne Former Government Agent, Matara

It is reported in the past Sunday Times  that we are getting sand from overseas as far as the Philippines and Indonesia.(Sunday Times)

I wonder why.

We have ample resources of sand. Having worked in over half the Districts in Sri Lanka and having done islandwide circuits over the entire terrain of the island for over five years, I am of the opinion that we do have enough and more of sand. In attending to endless tasks in rural and agricultural development, fertilizer distribution, minor irrigation and the administration of two districts, I have travelled by car, and trudged on footpaths on all types of terrain. At times I was criticised for drawing travelling claims above my salary.

I am therefore puzzled to realise why we have to get sand from abroad, incurring our borrowed foreign exchange.

A few years ago on my trip to Mahiyangana I met endless lorries hauling sand. I really wondered why. I was certain that it was not necessary because sand is everywhere on the shores of our endless rivers.

We are a country that is blessed with ample rainfall, the problem is that we do not know how to handle the gift of water that Mother Nature has bequeathed to us..

Dealing in sand is also  a lucrative trade. A decade ago I noticed sand packing going on at night in a number of empty lands in Nugegoda. By dusk four lorry loads roll in and two or three specialist workmen get involved in unloading. They unload only four loads and re pack them into five lorries. The workmen had mastered the art of shovelling sand in a manner that  creates an extra lorry load.  They work at least four to five hours a night. They have created an extra load. Having covered and supervised rice milling and paddy handling for long I am aware that  there is a method of packing more rice or paddy into a bushel. It depends on the manner in which the rice or paddy is poured in.. An extra lorry load is a fanciful earning. I am also certain that ferrying sand from Mahiyangana and Manampitiya has created a few millionaires.

To get back to sand from overseas. Our sand is in various places on river beds and river beaches and  nature determines the site. The Kelani Ganga, Maha Oya, the Mahaweli and all rivers are apt at this task and it is up to us to find out the spots and extract the amount of sand that will not create a problem for the environment. The officials the Divisional Secretaries and the Grama Nilasdharis will know the spots.  The Executive Engineers have also to come in. THis is a difficult task but something that can be done.

The foreign debt that will pile up when we have to pay for sand from overseas is also an important aspect. At the moment we are a bankrupt country, where we are unable to service our loans and we have to resort to borrow at high interest.  This has proved an easy task as the IMF though talking tough is ever ready to give us a clean bill of health which enables us to find loans. The fact that we get further into debt is forgotten. This is the rotten economic policy that the IMF foisted on our country in 1978, which we yet follow as detailed in my latest book: How the IMF Sabotaged Third World Development (Kindle). Till 1977 Sri Lanka was developing- managing with our incomes- We were not an indebted country in 1977.

Buying sand from overseas is not necessary. What is required is to put our house in order and find the sand within our country..

Garvin Karunaratne

Former Government Agent, Matara

5 th June 2017

5 Responses to “Sand from the Philippines and Indonesia”

  1. Christie Says:

    “Having covered and supervised rice milling and paddy handling for long I am aware that  there is a method of packing more rice or paddy into a bushel”

    Remember the days when rice millers used to add sand to rice? Specially when we changed from volume measure to weight and during the Rice Bar (Hal Polla) days.

    I don’t think we got huge sand deposits like in other countries.

  2. Nimal Says:

    This is truly shocking.Prez ran a sand monopoly were innocent poor were restricted in harvesting sand from the rivers while he supplied sand and we in Kandy had to get the sand from Maiyangana,the very sand that went past Gattembe in Kandy. Surly there’s a profit in this scheme for someone.
    Sudath where are you? Instead of writing nonsense please go to Paradenya bridge and look at the tons of sad had accumulated thus raising the river level that would bring down the river bank and the whole Peradenya town.We are truly a crooked nation with crooked leaders. Our history was crooked and cruel and we must bring back the colonial types to put the country right.

  3. . Says:

    Susantha Wijesinghe Says:
    June 3rd, 2017 at 1:08 pm
    DO WE HAVE AN IMPORT CONTROLLER ?

    DOES HE HAVE A BTN CLASSIFICATION IN HIS HAND ?

    IS SAND AN ITEM IN THE BTN CLASSIFICATION ?

    WHAT IS THE IMPORT DUTY FOR SAND, IF REFLECTED IN THE BTN ?

    IS SAND ALLOWED TO BE IMPORTED.? IS IT RESTRICTED ?

    Any and every item that can be imported is reflected in the BTN Classification. Does not mean that any and every item, reflected therein, can be imported. The regulatory measures are totally in the hands of the Import Controller, who has to abide by the Laws he is answerable to, laid by the Constitution. If any Politician or State Official is fiddling with the Duties, of an item that has been restricted, HE HAS TO BE EXPOSED IMMEDIATELY.

    BTN=BRUSSELS TARIFF NOMENCLATURE. THIS IS THE GUIDE TO IMPORTS. EVEN HUMAN HAIR

    I stand to be corrected.

  4. Susantha Wijesinghe Says:

    THANK YOU EDITOR. GREATLY APPRECIATE THE TRANSFER OF MY COMMENT.

  5. Fran Diaz Says:

    I tend to agree with Dr Karunaratne.
    Sand should not be a big problem to get for building purposes in Lanka.
    Quarries from sand removal can be used for garbage/waste dumping/disposal and also generating energy from waste material ?
    Over to the experts !

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