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Jairam vs Kamal Nath again?

In what seems to be a season for sniping ministers, Jairam Ramesh (environment) and Kamal Nath (road transport) may be headed for a second round of confrontation. Chetan Chauhan reports.

delhi Updated: Jul 16, 2010 01:28 IST
Chetan Chauhan

In what seems to be a season for sniping ministers, Jairam Ramesh (environment) and Kamal Nath (road transport) may be headed for a second round of confrontation.

The reason: an Environment Ministry committee's refusal to allow seven coal mining projects in Madhya Pradesh's Chhindwara district, the constituency Nath represents in Parliament. Nath was not available for comment.

Ramesh and Nath have already gone a round over the former's refusal to allow the widening of a national highway passing through Pench tiger reserve in Chhindwara, on the advice of the Supreme Court's central empowered committee.

This time, a committee constituted by the National Tiger Conservation Authority — which falls under the environment ministry — has said the seven projects shouldn't be allowed as they fall in the tiger corridor connecting Pench and Satpura reserves.

"Allowing coal mining will destroy a narrow corridor used by tigers to move from one reserve to another," a committee member said.

The state government hasn't notified the area as a tiger corridor but the committee based its recommendation on maps provided by the Wildlife Institute of India.

"During our field inspection we were told tigers frequent the corridor," the member said.

The committee was tasked with examining the impact of these projects on tiger conservation following protests by NGOs and conservationists.

The Environment Ministry's forest advisory committee is likely to examine the recommendation at its meeting this month, ministry officials said.

Nath had days ago taken on the Planning Commission, calling it an "armchair advisor" oblivious to "ground realities".

Ramesh has had his share of problems too - civil aviation minister Praful Patel accused him of being "overly obsessive" and delaying the proposed Mumbai airport while coal minister Sri Prakash Jaiswal held him responsible for delaying forest clearance for mining projects.