August 11, 2015 9:06:35 pm
Facing opposition onslaught, government today raked up in Lok Sabha the contention of former Environment Minister Jayanthi Natarajan that she used to receive “requests” from Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi’s office over projects and said it was looking into it.
Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar referred to a letter written by Natarajan to Congress President Sonia Gandhi months back when to hit back at Congress members who were shouting slogans against the government during Question Hour.
Mentioning the letter by Natarajan, whose name was later removed by the Chair from the recorded proceedings, Javadekar said she had talked about how projects were stalled and how requests were sent from the office of the Congress vice-president to her.
The reference to Rahul Gandhi’s office were also removed from the proceedings later.
“..people are playing partisan politics. What is more important is this — my erstwhile minister has written a letter in which she has narrated how from… the influence was brought. She has written how the projects were stalled; how the projects were directed saying that the permission should not be given. That is how the regime continued for long,” he said, while referring to his predecessor.
He said this is how projects like Posco were “stalled”.
The Environment Ministry “was converted by the earlier regime to the road block Ministry”, he said, at which several members from BJP thumped their desks.
At that time, Sonia Gandhi was seen talking to party leader Mallikarjun Kharge apparently referring to Javadekar’s remarks.
Kharge stood up asking Speaker Sumitra Mahajan how she could allow the name of a former minister not present in the House being taken.
Rahul Gandhi was present in the House and was seen speaking to some opposition members in the aisle.
Javadekar also said that crores of rupees worth of funds meant for afforestation were lying in bank accounts and not transferred to states.
The minister hoped that the proposed compensatory afforestation fund management and planning authority (CAMPA) would improve the situation.
Referring to concerns of the corporate sector as well as environment activists, he said development and environment can go together and his ministry was striving for the same.
He also accused the previous government of favouring Congress-ruled states, saying “…difference was made between the states — states which were ruling party states were favoured and states like Gujarat and Odisha were discriminated against. What did they do?”
The Environment Ministry gave permission to all the State Electricity Board plants in the last 10 years but in the case of Gujarat, they asked for Rs 100 crore guarantee, Javadekar said, adding “it was without any reason, it was without any basis, still the Gujarat government paid Rs 100 crore.”
He was responding after BJD member Pinaki Mishra, while raising the issue of depleting forest cover in the country. alleged that during the stint of the previous Environment Minister, “touts” in the ministry used to seek bribes for clearing projects.
He alleged that due to this, foreign direct investments worth crores of rupees were stopped while pointing to the proposed project by Korean major Posco in his home state Odisha.
He also praised Javadekar, saying the new minister has brought “fresh air” in the ministry.
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