The government on Saturday put Veerappa Moily in a precarious position as he will have to discharge two contradictory responsibilities – save environment while helping the cause of fossil fuels.
As petroleum minister he will be required to give fossil fuel – considered bad for environment – a push. On the other, as new environment and forest minister he will have to reduce dependence on the same.
Moily was asked to take charge after the incumbent minister Jayanthi Natarajan resigned.
The petroleum minister’s choice as in-charge of environment and forest ministry has surprised many. “It is difficult to reconcile that he has been made the environment minister,” said Himanshu Thakkar of South Asia Network for Dams, Rivers and People (SANDRAP).
Moily will be expected to fast track project clearances in the next few months, which the government felt had slowed down during Natarajan’s tenure.
Natarajan had resisted the moves from the PMO to dramatically change project approval guidelines but simplified some of the rules. She had differences with PMO on India’s stand on climate change and did not succumb to Agriculture minister Sharad Pawar for lifting ban on testing of new genetically modified crops. However, no new environment policy was initiated during her tenure.