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Govt to review UPA's green approvals after Jayanthi Natarajan revelations

india Updated: Jan 31, 2015 00:41 IST
HT Correspondent
Prakash Javadekar

The environment ministry will review projects that were approved or held back by the previous United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government without a valid reason, environment minister Prakash Javadekar said on Friday.

His comments came after former environment minister Jayanthi Natarajan said she was under pressure from Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi's office to stall major infrastructure projects when she was minister.

Javadekar described Natarajan's charge as a "serious issue" and said he would review the files where allegations of extraneous influence had been mentioned.

"The revelations made by Jayanthi Natarajan in her letter to Sonia Gandhi, which have become public today, are a matter of great concern and is a serious issue," the minister said in Pune. "I will review the files and review the facts."

Earlier, finance minister Arun Jaitley urged the environment ministry to review the projects considered during the UPA's tenure.

Ministry officials didn't waste any time and started scouting for files of projects mentioned in Natarajan's letter for the minister's review. She specifically mentioned Vedanta Resources' plans to mine bauxite in Odisha's Niyamgiri hills, the Posco Steel Plant in Odisha, the Adani port project in Gujarat and Nirma's cement plant, also in Gujarat.

The ministry will also prepare a detailed fact-sheet on the projects considered by the UPA government that will be reviewed.

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) is already conducting an inquiry into approval given to the Jindal Steel Plant in Chhattisgarh when Natarajan was in charge and may expand the scope of its probe from officials to political functionaries.

Earlier in January 2013, the CBI arrested a deputy director in the ministry for accepting a bribe for clearing mining projects in Odisha.