Union Forest Minister, Jairam Ramesh, gave Maharashtra’s forest minister, Patangrao Kadam, a piece of his mind when the latter publicly claimed he had very little to do.
“I come [to work] at 11 am and every day and go back at 1.30 pm,” Kadam said at a conference on climate change, organised by the Yashwantrao Chavan Pratishthan, at the Y B Chavan Centre, Nariman Point, on Saturday.
Ramesh, who was chief guest, slammed Kadam for taking his job and the department lightly.
“It’s a crisis situation for Maharashtra’s forest department. It has surplus financial resources, but it is starved of young people new models of forest management and, most of all, able leadership,” said Ramesh.
“We cannot spoil the environment and forests in the name of economic growth.”
The Union minister reminded Kadam of the money flowing in for Maharashtra’s green cover.
“The 13th finance commission has set aside a special grant of Rs 310 crore for forest protection and regeneration,” he said.
“That’s not small money for a department that begins at 11 am and winds up by 1.30 pm.”
He said Rs 370 crore have been given for water management and Rs 90 crore as compensatory afforestation fund.
This embarrassment for Kadam comes a few months after a television channel aired a tape showing him bad-mouthing Nationalist Congress Party chief, Sharad Pawar, and Revenue Minister, Narayan Rane. Kadam, however, claimed that the tape was doctored.
Ramesh said he has been telling Kadam, Chief Minister, Ashok Chavan, and forest officials to change the “badly managed” forest cadre.
Chavan, who had left before Ramesh’s address, said the government was doing its bit.
“We are moving towards a complete ban on tree felling in districts where we have seen a depletion of forest cover,” he said.