Date: 2 February 2015

Government gives green nod to 190 projects worth Rs 6.31 lakh crore

Mail Today Bureau    New Delhi   Last Updated: February 2, 2015  | 12:32 IST
Environment minister Prakash Javadekar has said that the government would review projects that were given environmental clearance and those rejected by the erstwhile United Progressive Alliance regime.

Environmental clearance has been given to as many as 190 projects entailing an investment of Rs 6.31 lakh crore across sectors like mining and steel during June-December as part of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government’s policy to fast-track industrial development and generate jobs.

A senior official told new agency PTI that the projects that have been approved belong to both public and private sectors and the clearances are subject to mitigation measures being undertaken by these firms.

The policy paralysis of the scam-battered erstwhile United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government had held up several big-ticket projects leading to a shrinking of capital investment and the economy slowing down to a sub-five-per cent growth rate.

The companies that have been granted environmental clearances include India Cements and Ultratech Cement for cement projects, ONGC and Cairn India for oil and gas exploration and Rungta Mines for a steel project.

Another 23 projects in the coal mining sector to be taken up by Coal India Limited (CIL) and its subsidiaries have been cleared and are expected to generate an additional 15 million tonnes of coal.

In non-coal mining category, environmental clearances have been given to iron ore projects located in Odisha.

The government has started an online system for getting environmental clearance and a portal for submission and monitoring of forest clearance proposals among others to fast-track approval and make the process more transparent.

A major controversy erupted on Friday following allegations made by former environment minister Jayanthi Natarajan that she was forced to hold back clearance for projects due to the interference of Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi’s office during her tenure.

Following her disclosure, both Union finance minister Arun Jaitley and environment minister Prakash Javadekar have said that government would take a fresh look at cases where environmental clearance was given to projects and also those that were rejected by the UPA government.

The ministry of environment and forests during Natarajan’s tenure was responsible for holding up as many as 35 mega projects each involving an investment exceeding Rs 1,000 crore, according to official documents.

The total investment in these projects goes far beyond Rs 35,000 crore as some of them were valued more than Rs 5,000 crore. Natarajan was sitting on proposals even after the ministry’s own expert appraisal committee had cleared them.