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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2737

NERD produces building block without river or sea sand

Q Perera - Reporting from Colombo

Colombo, 02 April, (Asiantribune.com): In Sri Lanka the use of river and sea sand for building construction work has created numerous environmental problems which ultimately led to ban on sand mining in rivers and the miners and transporters caught in the mining and transporting have been fined. With the Tsunami disaster which destroyed a large number of housing units has compounded the sand problem in the country as housing construction has accelerated.

To overcome the river and sea sand use the National Engineering Research and Development Centre (NERD) has now come up with a method to make building blocks without the use of river or sea sand. To make these building blocks the earth that is found in the building site itself could be used.

To acquaint the masons and building constructors to this method, NERD Centre held a workshop in their Ekala worksite. Jayantha Ranatunga, Chairman, NERD Centre addressing the building constructors and the masons at the workshop said scooping rivers for sand for building construction has created immense problems for the environment and even it has affected the lives of people due to the river sand mining.

He said some areas have sunk and habitats were destroyed. Deepening rivers have also resulted in drying the wells around these rivers. Ranatunga said to overcome this perennial problem NERD Centre has found a solution to use the earth found in the building site itself. This earth is mixed with cement and clay and with the use of specially constructed machines the mixture is compressed hard. Unlike the brick laying, with the new method these highly compressed building blocks need not be burnt.

He said the use of sand has increased in many folds due to the accelerated building construction activities to provide housing units to homeless tsunami victims.

Even large upstairs buildings could be constructed using these building blocks. Further unlike the making of bricks and cement blocks, to make the new kind of building blocks would be not that expensive.

He said when NERD first constructed and introduced to the building industry, pre-cast concrete door and window frames, some people laughed at the introduction, but today these frames are widely used.

Ranatunga said as these building blocks have to be specially compressed, a special kind of machines is now constructed by the NERD Centre and they could be purchased.

Dr M W Leeratne, General Manager, NERD Centre said, earlier there was an impasse in the building construction as there was a grave scarcity of sand as at that time sand and cement were essential components to make building blocks. Due to the introduction of the new method of making building blocks using river sand could be avoided.

- Asian Tribune -

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