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Environment Minister Prakash Javdekar has said he would discuss with Prime Minister Narendra Modi the need to usher in policy changes to sort out the pending forest/wildlife and environmental clearances issues in the country.
He also said the Kasturirangan Committee’s report on eco-sensitivity in Western Ghats would be revisited and local people’s views would be taken into consideration before any steps could be taken for its implementation.
On Saturday, Javadekar was briefed at Mumbai by senior state officials on the pending issues and was told that most of the stuck-up projects were cleared by the State Board for Wildlife but were pending before the National Board for Wildlife (NBWL).
They cited projects like four-laning of the part of NH-17 (Mumbai-Goa) passing through Karnala Sanctuary, Navi Mumbai International Airport, Multimodal International Hub Airport at Nagpur (MIHAN), Dedicated Freight Corridor, Koyna rehabilitation, eco-sensitive zones around national parks and sanctuaries, etc.
The state officials told Javadekar the eco-sensitive zone proposals for parks and sanctuaries were realistically sorted out by the state by carving out boundaries as per the local conditions and exigencies instead of sticking to the “de facto 10-km radius” standard prescription. The proposals are pending with the Centre for approval, he was told.
Sources said Javadekar expressed the opinion that once the state wildlife board clears the proposals, there should generally be no need for clearance from the NBWL. He said that he will first study the issues and discuss them with the Prime Minister to see how broad policy changes could resolve the matter.
The state also cited smooth rehabilitation of many villages out of tiger reserves, national parks and sanctuaries and sought over Rs 200 crore for the purpose for future rehabilitations.
With six ministers, MP clout grows in Delhi
One of the pet campaign themes of the BJP in the recent assembly and general elections was the alleged discrimination by the UPA government, an accusation that allowed it to hold protests and call union ministers, especially those hailing from the state, names for delay and cancellation of projects. But not any more.
The Narendra Modi government has six ministers, five of them of the Cabinet rank, who are either from the state or have shifted their political base in the recent years, giving MP an immense clout at the Centre.
Going by sheer numbers, Union minister Prakash Javadekar, who is all set to enter the Rajya Sabha from MP, is the latest entrant to add to the state’s growing clout. Javadekar, who filed his nomination Saturday, announced he would soon clear environment-related files from the state that were kept pending by the previous government.
Like Sushma Swaraj, Javadekar does not belong to MP. Thavarchand Gehlot, Narendra Singh Tomar, Najma Heptullah (born in Bhopal) and Uma Bharti are Cabinet ministers.
BJP veteran Sumitra Mahajan, who did not get a ministerial berth despite speculation, is the Lok Sabha Speaker. Tomar, also state BJP chief, said the state’s clout has increased after it got one more minister — Javadekar.
But Congress chief Satyadev Katare dismissed the argument. “It’s a complete mismanagement on BJP’s part. It forced Javadekar on MP because its plan to ensure an RS berth for him from Karnataka failed. In any case, all ministers are rubber stamps as Modi will run the show single handedly.”