Denies she held up environmental clearance to key projects
A day after she resigned from the Union Council of Ministers, triggering speculation on the reason behind her move, Jayanthi Natarajan on Sunday described as “absurd” reports that she quit under pressure as Environment Minister because she had held up environmental clearances to some key projects.
Insisting that she had resigned on her own, Ms. Natarajan, who was Minister with independent charge, vehemently denied that she resigned on the issue of green clearances.
“A bulk of the projects — 92 per cent — are cleared at the State level itself and only 8 per cent come to the Environment and Forests Ministry. There is no question of holding up green clearances for the projects. All I can say is that such reports are completely absurd,” Ms. Natarajan told The Hindu here.
She said the MoEF had to clear projects as per the law and within the established time-frame. “All information, including minutes of the meetings and clearances, is put on the Ministry’s website. Projects have to be cleared within a stipulated time frame of 60 days as laid down in the law. Any other suggestion is completely absurd,” she added.
While defending the decisions taken during her over two-year tenure, she brushed aside complaints, reportedly from industry, of causing undue delay in giving environment clearances. However, Ms. Natarajan said she had had her concerns about dams and hydro-electric power projects in the wake of massive landslips caused by torrential rain and flash floods earlier this year in the hilly State of Uttarakhand.