17 infrastructure projects cleared by environment ministry: Javadekar

Hyderabad : Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar Thursday said the perception of the ministry has changed in three months with clearance of 17 infrastructure projects which were pending under the previous government, transparency in procedures, simplification of rules and swift decision-making.

He told reporters here that the ministry introduced online approval of projects, which brought transparency and accountability in the procedures. It has so far received 250 online applications.

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Javadekar said the National Board of Wildlife which met recently cleared 17 infrastructure projects pending for 17 months under the UPA government. Former prime minister Manmohan Singh congratulated him for clearing the projects and for taking decisions, he added.

“Environment ministry had the image of something dangerous. It was called speed-breaker ministry, return of license quota and permit raj and development stopper. We have changed the perception,” he said.

The minister claimed that the process of project clearance has also been decentralized. The infrastructure projects involving diversion of forest land up to 40 hectares can now be taken at the state level. Earlier, all the projects even for five hectares used to be referred to Delhi.

The ministry is giving priority to linear projects like irrigation canals, transmission lines, pipelines and roads and has made diversion process simpler.

Javadekar, however, clarified that swift decisions doesn’t mean that they are playing with environment.

“Our slogan is development without destruction. Development and environment protection have to go hand and in hand,” the minister said, pointing out that the ministry made pollution norms more stringent for cement industry and is ensuring 100 percent compliance of norms by all industries.

Javadekar said 24×7 monitoring centres would be compulsory on the effluents discharged by the industries to ensure that they don’t pollute the environment. He made it clear that no illegal activity will be allowed.

The minister said the Narendra Modi government in its first 100 days gave confidence to country, people and the world community that it can deliver and that good days are here. “It has shown it is it is a working government in the backdrop of policy paralysis of last 10 years,” he said.

He claimed that investors got confidence and the ease of doing business has returned. The minister said while domestic investors after a gap of four years getting ready for vigorous investment in the country, the international investors began to see India as a preferred destination. He termed this as the biggest achievement of the new government.