The UPA government brought in Jayanti Natarajan in place of Jairam Ramesh in July 2011 to provide steam to the economy by approving blocked projects. Over two years later, she was sacked for sitting on project approvals - the same reason Ramesh was shown the door.
When her successor Veerappa Moily assumed charge he discovered that over 100 projects - small and big - were lying on her table for months despite approval from the ministry's statutory bodies - the expert appraisal committees and the forest advisory committee.Moily did not find any reason on many of these files for the delay and gave his approval to about 70 projects in his first 15 days in office, which were estimated to be worth Rs 5 lakh crore.
Natarajan had, however, refuted the charge claiming that the environment rules provide for deemed approval if the minister fails to decide on the project within a period of 30 days.
"False propaganda was being spread against me and was the reason I quit the party," she told HT over phone.
The Rs 52,000 crore worth Posco's steel plant in Odisha, the biggest foreign direct investment in the country, which had been hanging fire for almost a decade, was among the major projects approved by Moily. The minister also approved Adani Power's projects in Rajasthan and Maharashtra.
The minister also approved Adani Power's projects in Rajasthan and Maharashtra.
He approved environmental and coastal regulation zone (CRZ) clearance to RS 5,187 crore deep water container trans-shipment port at Vizhinjam in Kerala. The 1,600 MW supercritical thermal power project of Ennore SEZ in Tamil Nadu, Chennai Petroleum's 16.7 km crude pipeline and Hinduja's power project in Visakhapatnam were also approved.
Like Natarajan, Moily also did not approve bauxite mining in Niyamgiri Hills for Vedanta's aluminum factory in Odisha as Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi had described himself as "sipahi of tribal" and assured them that he will not allow the scared hills to be plundered.