'Won't give in to growth maniacs' | delhi | Hindustan Times
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'Won't give in to growth maniacs'

A day after his colleagues in the government charged him with obstructing growth, environment minister Jairam Ramesh said he cannot be either a pure "growthwallah" or a pure "environmentalist". Chetan Chauhan reports.I can't be pure growthwallah in this job

delhi Updated: Feb 19, 2011 00:44 IST
Chetan Chauhan

A day after his colleagues in the government charged him with obstructing growth, environment minister Jairam Ramesh said he cannot be either a pure "growthwallah" or a pure "environmentalist".

"I have to be both."

He told HT in an exclusive interview: "Unfortunately, there are people who are growth maniacs, who believe in the 9% growth rate. Grow now and pay later. There are environmentalists who believe in Banana syndrome, which means build absolutely nothing anywhere near anyone… I had to do what I think right."

On Thursday, home minister P Chidambaram said the government could not be "dogmatic" given its commitment to achieving a 9% growth rate and a price would have to be paid for that.

Ramesh said he was not dogmatic as he listened to other ministries' ideas.

"The go and no-go policy was based on a suggestion of the coal ministry. I listen. I am not dogmatic," he said.

But he made it clear he was not obsessed with 9% growth and there would be occasions when he'd have to say no to projects.

And there would be no automatic project clearances even in go-areas for coal mining.

The projects would have to pass the test of the forest advisory committee, a statutory body.

Terming the striking of a balance between growth and environment an "incredibly complex problem", he said he had tried to achieve it while clearing the Posco project in Orissa despite strong protest by environmentalists.