The delays in green nod for projects, partly blamed for the economic slowdown, were on Sunday attributed by Environment Minister M Veerappa Moily to “fear psychosis” among bureaucrats and his predecessors.
Mr. Moily, the Oil and Petroleum Minister who took additional charge of the ministry three weeks back, suggested that clearances are affected because rules are complicated and the competent authority has discretionary powers.
“You can’t blame anybody. The environment is such that there is a fear psychosis, particularly after 2009 created because of the CAG reports, court verdicts, and court proceedings. There are issues like the National Green Tribunal, CBI inquiry. Not only on this (environment) thing, but all matters,” he told PTI in an interview in New Delhi.
He said ministers and officers “think that we have to be extra cautious. The extra caution sometimes leads to the delays in the process. So can’t blame anybody, neither the ministers or the...”
He was explaining reasons for delays in environmental clearances to projects, many of them big-ticket ones, during the tenure of Ms. Jayanthi Natarajan from whom he took over.
The industry had been complaining that the delays in green clearances were hindering their projects and thus hurting the economic growth and it is believed that Ms. Natarajan lost her job because of that.
Ms. Moily, who has been speeding up the clearances, said rules and laws should be such that they harmonise in maintaining balance on the planet.
“Rules should not be complicated. Sometime, the rules are so complicated and interpreted in anyway they like... All these things will lead to some of these doubts by some decision-making party,” he said.
Quoting Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi, he said there is a “lot of discretion”.
He said nobody would question if people go by the rules and the laid down law consciously in the national interest maintaining the ecological balance on the planet.
“For that you have to put governance in place. That’s all...not taking no (any) decision is not the solution and also taking postage decision is not the solution. We have to walk in between,” he explained.
He said he believes that in planning, there is place for the wildlife, environment and forests and also human beings.
“This has survived all these thousands and thousands of years. Why should we now be afraid to take decisions. The question is there are laws in place, the regulations in place, rules are in place. All these things are just available and providing space to everybody.
“We should not encroach upon the others’ space. that is why the rules are necessary,” he said.
Mr. Moily rejected suggestions of a policy paralysis in the UPA government while insisting that a number of crucial laws have been enacted during the last 10 years.
“There is no policy paralysis. A number of strong decisions have been taken, for example, Food Security Act has been passed, many new things have been done,” Mr. Moily said.
But when asked that Food Security Act was more of a ‘populist’ decision, he said it deals with problem of livelihood and can’t be termed as populist.
“If you do not eradicate poverty, no government is worth living. Growth will have to balanced with the people also. UPA coined the term inclusive growth. Unless you take the people along, the growth has no meaning at all,” he said.