The prime minister’s Special Envoy on Climate Change, Shyam Saran, is quitting office, reportedly because of environment minister Jairam Ramesh’s pro-active approach towards climate change related issues which left Saran with little to do.
A two-line statement by the Prime Minister’s Office on Thursday said Saran was being permitted to demit office from 14 March.
No reasons were cited.
Saran was initially appointed special envoy during negotiations relating to the Indo-US Nuclear Agreement in August 2006, the day he retired from the foreign secretary’s post.
His role was expanded in April 2008 to cover climate diplomacy as well since the PMO could not rely on Namo Narain Meena and S Reghupathy — the two ministers of state for environment then — to mobilise support for India’s stand on climate change issues ahead of the December 2009 climate change conference at Copenhagen.
Saran was the person who called the shots till Jairam Ramesh was inducted Minister of State for Environment with independent charge. Some officials claim Ramesh announced some key policy initiatives — such as India’s willingness to reduce emission intensity for GDP growth by 20-25 per cent by 2020 — without taking Saran into confidence.
Eyebrows were also raised after Saran’s successor in the foreign office, Shiv Shankar Menon, was appointed National Security Adviser in the PMO, a position that comes with a Minister of State status.
Saran, in contrast, continued to hold the rank of secretary to the central government. But sources said the PMO had offered to upgrade his office to a matching MoS rank that Saran turned down. A source insisted Saran had wanted to quit even before Copenhagen.