Ready to discuss 'no-go' definition: Ramesh
Environment minister Jairam Ramesh said today he is ready to discuss a more liberal definition of "no-go" areas where mining activities were prohibited on environmental concerns.delhi Updated: Dec 24, 2010 20:59 IST
Environment minister Jairam Ramesh said on Friday he is ready to discuss a more liberal definition of "no-go" areas where mining activities were prohibited on environmental concerns.
"I am ready to sit down and discuss a more liberal definition of what is 'no-go.' I am open-minded at every step," Ramesh told reporters in New Delhi.
Planning Commission deputy chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia had on Wednesday questioned the concept of "go, no-go" areas devised by the environment ministry.
According to Ahluwalia, the country's infrastructure-led growth plans may be hit if coal-bearing areas remained out of bounds for mining.
Ramesh said the concept of "go, no-go" was not defined by his ministry but chairman Coal India.
"It was the chairman Coal India that suggested to me that why can't we have 'go and no-go' areas. I said damn good idea," he said.
Ramesh said the environment ministry and the coal ministry worked out a plan where 65% of forests were declared "go" where mining can be done and rest 35% was "no go" where mining cannot be done as they have thick forest, wildlife and water resources which are important ecologically.
"Now people are saying why 35%, why not 30%, 20% or 10%. It is not Azadpur mandi type of handling we are doing in go and no go areas," he said.
"Now suddenly I am being accused of being an obstructionist. I find this debate completely unbalanced. It is unfortunate that a personal attack was launched on me. There is no personal agenda here," he added.
Speaking on the delay in a final decision on the South Korean steel major POSCO for its $12 billion project in Orissa, Ramesh said a final decision will be taken in next two-three weeks.
"I hope to bring closure to POSCO issue in next two to three weeks. It is a complicated issue and I have to be sensitive to it."
The environment ministry has put on hold a POSCO project, citing violations of environment and forest laws by the company.