The Facade of Federalist Incongruity: A Political Pretense To A Popular Menace
Sand, being a minor mineral, slips out of the Union List of the Seventh Schedule; which section 15 of the MMDR Act re-assures. This, coupled with entries 23 and 64 of State List is construed as categorical constraint on Union interference in the popular menace of sand mining. But, this paper here crusades to construct an inclusive interpretation of entries 17A, 17B, 20, 34 of concurrent List and entries 13, 42, 51, 54, 56, 97 of the Union List to compel unconditional compliance to conservation justice principles. Sand mining, apart from being viewed as a robbery of a resource in itself, must be viewed under the wide lens of wildlife, habitation and ecology. These three are intertwined in a way that the changes in the geomorphology of river, its physical and chemical properties, the consequential head-cutting thereof erode the exotic wildlife of their naturally available habitat, migrating the zoonotic diseases along with them to human settlements. The artificial lateral erosion in the form of degrading dredging also attacks the stability of standing structures like bridges, water tanks, railway pillars, etc. The human habitation is also affected by the suspended particulate matter in air and potholed pathways, a result of wrongly chosen routes for transport. Hence, as lucrative and necessary the business of sand and construction sounds, it is more crucial to consider the grave existential threat of rampaging our rivers. The State specific solutions have either been stuck in 1950s laws or come off as late epiphanies to altogether ban mining. A combined crusade for preservation and public health commands a quasi federalist conscience of a common conservation law than a duty dividing federalist approach between the Centre and the States. Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act, 1957. An example would be the Tamil Nadu Minor Mineral Concession Rules, 1959.
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