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Green overkill irks ministers

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has asked the Planning Commission to come up with a process that will give faster environment clearances to infrastructure projects, after three ministers complained to him about delays.

delhi Updated: Mar 25, 2010 00:18 IST
Chetan Chauhan

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has asked the Planning Commission to come up with a process that will give faster environment clearances to infrastructure projects, after three ministers complained to him about delays.

“The PM has asked us to work on fast-track environmental clearances to boost the infrastructure sector,” said Montek Singh Ahluwalia, Planning Commission’s deputy chairperson. “We will consult the environment ministry soon.”

Road transport minister Kamal Nath, power minister Sushil Kumar Shinde and water resources minister Pawan Bansal have allegedly complained that the environment ministry — headed by Jairam Ramesh — is delaying projects.

In 2009, Ramesh decided that several projects would not get environment or forest clearance unless a comprehensive impact assessment is done, a moved that was welcomed by Non Governmental Organisations.

Officials said the PM is keen that the new mechanism ensures that a project gets environment clearance within a fixed time frame.

At present, a project takes from six months to two years to get the ministry’s clearance.

The issue was raised at the Planning Commission meeting on Tuesday, where the panel pointed out that except telecom, all infrastructure sectors would fail to meet their 11th plan target.

Ramesh did not respond to calls or text messages.