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.