This refers to the objections raised by Jayanthi Natarajan, Minister of State for Environment, to the proposal to set up a National Investment Board, an alternative mechanism for issuing fast track environment clearance to projects worth Rs. 1000 crore or more. The problem of delays in granting environmental clearance can be addressed in two ways — by removing the bureaucratic hurdles in the Environment Ministry’s approval mechanism or creating an alternative institutional framework. If the government goes for the second option, it should ensure that powerful business and corporate houses do not take undue advantage.
The proposal to set up an NIB seems to have been taken in haste, without factoring in the negative impact it will have on our forests, which are shrinking at an alarming rate. Ms Natarajan has rightly expressed her serious concern over an investment board which can overrule the Ministry. Are our leaders more concerned about investment or our environment?