Anand Sharma and Jayanthi Natarajan discuss to ease environment laws

In a bid to narrow down differences between various ministries over the new manufacturing policy, Union Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma on Wednesday met Environment and Forests Minister Jayanthi Natrajan to ease environment laws in the manufacturing policy.

“I think we are in a position now to move forward for taking a final view in the matter,'' Mr. Sharma said after his meeting with Ms. Natarajan.

An official statement issued after the meeting said the two ministers reached an understanding to fast-track the resolution of the issues so that the new proposed policy could be put up before the Union Cabinet as soon as possible. “We had a good discussion on many matters. One is related to industry and the second is on manufacturing policy. I think we are now in a position to move forward for taking a final view in the matter,'' he remarked.

Mr. Sharma indicated that he would soon be meeting the Labour Minister as well as the Finance Minister to discuss the policy.

The statement said the two ministers also discussed the issue raised during the recent industry consultations held by Mr. Sharma with CII and FICCI representatives.

The industry consultations threw up the issue of CSR (corporate social responsibility) initiatives being mandatory for environment clearances. Both ministers agreed that the issue merits a fresh look. Mr. Sharma also raised the issue of delay caused by the sequential approval for industrial and environmental clearances and stressed the need for revisiting the procedure.

Earlier, Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) Secretary R. P. Singh said there were issues with both Environment and Labour Ministries. The draft manufacturing policy has recommended changes in environment norms that come in the way of investment. “The Labour Ministry has cited International Labour Organisation (ILO) obligations. One serious difference of opinion I got is that everybody is talking about their sovereign functions, including the Environment Ministry,'' Mr. Singh said.

Speaking at a function organised by FICCI, Mr. Singh said the Revenue Department was veering round to the proposal for extending capital gains tax exemptions on equity investment in national manufacturing industrial zones (NMIZs). The DIPP is of the view that the units in the NMIZs should get exemption from capital gains tax, he said. “Finally, the Revenue Department has found merit in this and hopefully they will agree on this. Now, we are working modalities with them as to how to check the misuse of this,'' Mr. Singh said.

According to the draft paper, the NMIZs would enjoy all the tax benefits that SEZs and EOUs have.

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