Well, the answer to this question is both a ‘yes’ and a ‘no’! While the authorization of the MoEF or the SEIAA has been mandated by the central government, not many of the sand miners actually comply with it. The legal framework had to call for some strict standards, mostly after the demise of Swami Nigamananda Saraswati, who had been heavily protesting against illegal sand mining. But the dredging of the sand from river banks still continues ultimately exceeding a safe capacity.
The researchers have found that a vicious cycle gets created due to the profit that sand mining generates. Not only do the mafias enjoy the revenue, but a part of it also goes to the state government, thereby reducing the chances of resistance. Also, banning sand mining altogether means bringing about a massive breakdown to the real estate industry. And this is what even forced the Bombay High Court to lift such an order in 2010.
An aquifer that sand is, stripping it causes more complications than benefits. With the increase in unrestrained mining, local groundwater is facing a trial, natural stream reserve habitats are damaged, and these are in addition to the obvious deforestation. There have been laws from the Allahabad High Court in 2006, in Tamil Nadu, in Karnataka in 2011, and a lot of other states we know of. Also, in Noida Special Mining Squads had been deployed to regulate the process. But then, most of these rules are counteracted, and bans are lifted by private parties and governments on the pretext of infrastructural and industrial slowdown.
As we see it now, controlling natural exhaustion cannot just be regulated by law. We understand that the wheels of progress or profits cannot be turned backwards. So, does the endorsement of alternate sources to river sand seem like the only opportunity that could perhaps keep a balance between the environment, and also the need for urban evolution?