Minister for Petroleum and Natural Gas M. Veerappa Moily, who also holds charge of Environment and Forest, has defended his decision to give environmental clearances to mega projects that, according to some, are likely to have a serious impact on environment and ecology in different parts of the country.

In a chat with The Hindu at Gurmitkal in Yadgir district on Sunday, Mr. Moily, who is facing flak for clearing controversial projects such as Pasco Steel, said that his decision was not hasty or hurried but as per the provisions of the Act concerned.

Mr. Moily said that he was not the only authority to give environmental clearances to mega projects and proposals had to pass through screening at the State and regional level. “Only after these bodies give clearance to the proposals, the Ministry of Forest and Environment can act on the recommendations. I have not overruled any of the recommendations of the States or regional-level bodies,” he said.

He said that the Act concerned was one of the best in the world with several checks and balances incorporated to prevent loss of green cover and to protect environmental and ecological damage.

“All these clearances were given after following all procedures and as per the provisions of the Act,” he said.

“I do not like to keep files pending in my Ministry and after I took charge, nearly 170 pending files with an implication of Rs. 2.50 lakh crore were cleared. There was no mala fide in clearing these files,” he said.

Mr. Moily said that the government was going slow on decontrolling the price of diesel.

At present, there was only a partial decontrol of diesel price and “the government has the responsibility of looking into the transport sector and the domestic LPG issues,” he added.

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