Don’t clear projects violating forest dwellers’ rights: Deo


New Delhi : Joining hands with Environment Minister Jayanthi Natarajan against the setting up of a National Investment Board (NIB) to fast-track clearance to mega-infrastructure projects, Tribal Affairs Minister K.C. Deo Wednesday said no clearance should be given to projects that violate the rights of forest dwellers.

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“I have not expressed any opinion on NIB but my whole insistence is on implementation of Forest Rights Act. These are laws of the land, which are enacted in parliament and to be observed in letter and spirit. I have written to Jayanthi that no clearance be given to projects that violates the law,” Deo told reporters here.

Natarajan, in a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Tuesday, said that Finance Minister P. Chidambaram’s move to set up NIB, to fast-tract clearance of infrastructure projects above Rs.1,000 crore, is “unacceptable”.

The NIB would ensure that major projects would be cleared without any delays by setting time limits for clearances and if it finds that the environment ministry has failed, it would take over cases of clearances.

The green ministry has been held responsible by the industry and many other ministries like coal and highway for delaying infrastructure projects, thus hampering country’s growth.

The charge has been refuted by the environment minister saying it has cleared power projects way above needed to meet electricity demands for next few years.

Natarajan, who was in Assam Wednesday, denied comment on the letter, saying it was meant to be discussed in the cabinet and not publicly.