Timelines for environmental and forest clearances are being brought down and processes made transparent, Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar said today seeking to exorcise the image of “roadblock” his ministry had gained during the previous UPA government.
But the new minister does not want to indulge in any blame nor his ministry has the exact financial estimate of the loss or the worth of the projects which were kept pending for clearance during the UPA government.
Javadekar suggested that the approach of his predecessors in the ministry had caused a “loss of face” to the nation as it was seen as “speedbraker” to development and foreign investors had started leaving the country.
He told PTI that he has inherited thousands of pending files as legacy from the previous UPA government and the monetary damage it caused is “innumerable”.
Promising to speed up the green clearances processes, he said, “decisions are in, delays are out”.
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Talking about the steps already initiated, Javadekar said, “we will bring down the timeline. For environmentclearance, two months we have already decided. For forest clearnace also at that stage. There are two stages. ToR and final clearance.
“But we are setting timelines and there was a huge process of 200 days which also we can bring down. For every industry it is different but we will shorten the process without compromising quality. But by simplifying processes we can do in a shorter span of time,” Javadekar said.
“…I got a legacy in which the environment ministry was perceived as a roadblock ministry…a speed breaker to the growth. Therefore after assuming charge I assured the people that we believe and our firm conviction is that both environment protection and growth can go hand in hand.
“My slogan is development without destruction. We care for mother earth. We care for nature. But we want development also. They are not foes they are friends,” he said.
Asked about alleged irregularities under his predecessors, the Minister said he will do “due deligence” after some time but his first priority was to “deliver”.
“It is innumerable,” Javadekar said when asked any estimate in crores as to how much the country lost due to delays in environmental projects.
“It can’t be counted in Rupees. It is the loss of face. The international investors started withdrawing from India only because of this. If the environment becomes a road block and it became like a public quota raj again from back door. We don’t want that to happen,” he said.
The Minister said he was prioritising defence and public welfare projects like national highways, railways, ports, roads, airports and linear transmission for clearance.