Former environment minister Jairam Ramesh on Monday countered industrialist Gautam Adani’s claims that he, as Union minister, had given permission for mining forest land area in Chhattisgarh, adding that the industrialist was benefitting from Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “largesse”.
Dismissing Adani’s claim that the opposition party was “unnecessarily” dragging the corporate into its “politics”, the senior Congress leader, in a statement, denied that he was being “inconsistent” and was making the industrialist a political target.
Standing by his decision of permitting the allocation of a coal mine to the Rajasthan government, Ramesh said, “What Shri Adani has conveniently forgotten is that the issue now is not that he is the mine operator selected by the Rajasthan government. Shri Adani has deliberately side-stepped the real issue: That the Chhattisgarh government has cancelled the rights that have to be settled under the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006 before the mine can be developed.”
In an interview to an economic daily on Monday, Adani said the Rajasthan government owned the said mine and that the Adani group was just a contractor.
The Chhattisgarh government in January passed an order cancelling the community land rights of local tribals over the forest land, guaranteed under the Forest Rights Act. The Act mandates that all claims and rights of the tribals and forest dwellers be settled before the government moves on a land. However, with the government failing to do so, the allocation has been caught in a legal bind.
The Congress leader said that he had provided detailed evidence to show how the present secretary in the Union ministry of tribal affairs was “supporting” the Chhattisgarh government’s “brazenly unilateral move to benefit Shri Adani by circumventing a rule” that he had laid out as the environment minister in August 2009, and that was passed by Parliament in December 2006.
“Shri Adani should have had the intellectual honesty to acknowledge the issue in dispute. That he is the beneficiary of Shri Narendra Modi’s largesse both as CM of Gujarat and PM of India is beyond any doubt,” said Ramesh.
Adani had in the interview accused the Congress of playing “politics of convenience” while in power at the Centre, and accused Ramesh of not having his facts in order.