The Minister of State for Environment and Forests, Jairam Ramesh on Tuesday told the Rajya Sabha that his Ministry had not indulged in any kind of dilution of pollution control norms in lifting moratorium on developmental projects in some of the critically polluted areas.

Replying to a Short Duration discussion in the Upper House, Mr. Jairam Said: “There is absolutely no change in thinking of MoEF. There is no dilution of pollution norms.’’

Mr. Ramesh said in January 2010, the Environment Ministry had imposed the moratorium on environmental clearance for new projects and expansions in 43 critically polluted industrial clusters to stimulate environmental remediation/mitigation activities by industry and by the State governments concerned.

Of the 43 critically polluted areas, seven cover the country's major coal fields, namely Chandrapur, Korba, Talcher, Singrauli, Dhanbad, Ib Valley and Asansol. “Decisions when taken are adhered to unless new information is available,’’ he said referring to relaxation given in certain cases.

The Minister told the members that moratorium on development projects is being lifted upon respective State governments adhering to strict implementation of action plan to contain pollution and monitoring by pollution control boards.

Asked about lifting of moratorium in Chandrapur, he said the Maharasthra Government has prepared an action plan and the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) was reviewing its implementation. “We will lift the moratorium if the action plan is implemented and proper monitoring done,’’ he said.

Mr. Ramesh also said real estate and mining mafia were ‘hell bent’ on destroying forests in the name of development. Without naming anybody, he sought support of lawmakers when his Ministry takes such mafia elements head-on to protect forests in the country.

The Minister said there is no programme for breeding Royal Bengal Tiger as there is no shortage of breeding the natural way. “I am not a believer of Buddhist philosophy as far as Royal Bengal Tigers are concerns. A tiger, which believes in Buddhist principle, is not a tiger. Tiger is best left in wild,’’ he said.

Mr. Ramesh said Gangetic river dolphins have been declared National Aquatic Animal of India and a programme is being formulated for their protection.

More In: National | News