Not a single file is pending for approval at the Ministry of Environment, claims environment minister Prakash Javdekar. In an exclusive interview with CNBC-TV18’s Shereen Bhan, he says the word ‘delay’ has been deleted by the ministry and his government has tried to speed up the approval process in last three months.
He adds that the ministry plans faster due diligence and environmental nods for new coal mines to speed up the auction process post the Supreme Court decision on coal block allocation.
Also, he aims move amendments to some environment acts in the winter session of the Parliament.
Also Read: Not against coal deallocation, we only want finality, says Goyal
Below is the verbatim transcript of Prakash Javadekar’s interview with CNBC-TV18’s Shereen Bhan.
Q: Let me start by asking you about the environment ministry, what would you consider to be your biggest achievement as far as your 100 day report card is concerned because in terms of actual decision making the measures that you decided to undertake of online submissions of both forest and environmental clearances, that is the only real decision if I could call it that. Can you take us through the other decisions that you believe are your achievements in the first 100 days?
A: We have deleted the word delay from our systems.Otherwise the environment ministry had become known for road-blocking, speed breaking ministry, return of license permit quota raj. We have dispelled with all this and we are talking decisions, now there is not a single file pending on my table. Where files are pending, at each directors level we are asking them and every weekly review we are taking. Only due appraisals should happen and immediately files should be disposed off either way. The sole motto is to protect environment and to take decisions to allow economic growth so that growth and environment protection can go hand in hand, two.
The third which is very important is about defence, the 6000 kms boarder roads were bogged down with too many environmental hurdles. What we have removed is not the conditions of compensatory environment or aforestation. But what we have given is a general approval so that it becomes a seamless process and for 100 kms from LOC, all border roads plus all strategic defence infrastructure have come under general approval. 170 leftwing extremism affected districts, the roads we have cleared. All the linear projects be it transmission line, be it irrigation canal, be it road, rail, all kinds of pipelines, all these will now be very simpler processes have been made.
Then about the diversion of forest files used to come to us. I discussed with my officials, I studied it and when I found that 90 percent of those files which are coming to me are below 40 hectares means below 100 acres, so these are the small diversions. So we have given these to the regional committees where the states have also been made stake holders. So there are many positive things we have done for growth as well as environment protection.
Q: You have articulated for us how you are trying to change the perception of the environment ministry being a speed breaker ministry but if I could you about specifics, you just told us that you don’t have a single pending file on your table; that you have been clearing files. You had setup your government under the leadership of the Prime Minister had setup the wildlife board. The wildlife board had cleared several projects. That legality of the wildlife board has been questioned by the Supreme Court of India. What happens to the clearances that have been passed by the wildlife board and how do you hope to reconstitute the wildlife board because it is fallen foul of the Environment Protection Act as has been articulated by the Supreme Court?
A: As the matter is subjudice I don’t want to discuss it further so there should be no embarrassment to anybody. The issue is that in the first phase we have constituted the bear minimum which is the standing committee of the National Board of Wildlife. However, following that two days ago we have constituted the whole National Board of Wildlife. So, already that process was on, that is already completed and the facts will be put before the court. I think court can appreciate it and there will be no issue.