Judge environment ministry by rejection rate: Minister




By IANS,

Chennai : The performance of the environment ministry and the bodies coming under it should be judged by the number of applications it rejects and not by the permissions it grants, Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh said here Wednesday.

"Judge me by the rejection rate. Ninety four percent of the industrial projects and nearly 85 percent of the applications coming under the forest laws get the government's nod. And this should not be the case," Ramesh told reporters on the sidelines of an international conference organised by the M.S. Swaminathan Research Foundation (MSSRF).

Queried about his criticism because the National Biodiversity Authority had rejected only 10 percent of applications for access to biological resources, Ramesh said: "We have rejected the Athirapillay power project in Kerala and the India based Neutrino Observatory in Nilgiris near Mudumalai Tiger Reserve (MTR). We should learn to say no."

Recently Ramesh placed a moratorium on commercial cultivation of genetically modified brinjal.

"There has to be political, scientific and societal consensus on BT Brinjal," he said, pointing out that 12 chief ministers had opposed it.

According to him the Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC) will soon be renamed Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee.

Speaking about tiger poaching he said the Wildlife Protection Act will be strengthened soon.

Stating that the Chinese demand for tiger products is an important cause for tiger poaching, Ramesh said: "The real danger is the real estate and the mining mafias which covet the forest land killing the tigers."

He said the central government has proposed setting up of a lion reserve in Madhya Pradesh and a tiger reserve in Gujarat.

"It is not a tiger reserve for a lion reserve. Gujarat is one state that does not have a tiger reserve. Further it is better to have lion reserve in two places so that the specie would survive an epidemic," Ramesh explained.

"I don't think Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi would object as Madhya Pradesh is also ruled by BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party). There is no politics in our proposal," he said.

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