Jayanthi Natarajan has given credence to several questions that were raised over her controversial tenure when she was often blamed for stalling or delaying projects.
Even as she confirms widely held suspicions that environmental clearances to projects have often been decided on grounds extraneous to the merits of the case, Jayanthi Natarajan has given credence to several questions that were raised over her own controversial tenure as environment minister.
As reported by The Indian Express a few days after she stepped down from office in December 2013, Jayanthi Natarajan, at the time of her resignation, had been sitting on about 280 files, many of which related to project clearances. What was curious was that nearly 70 of these files relating to approvals had been withheld at her residence despite she having signed on them several days earlier.
Not surprisingly, she was often blamed for stalling or delaying projects. Allegations of rent-seeking were also made, something that prompted Narendra Modi to coin the term ‘Jayanti-tax’ during the Lok Sabha election campaign last year.
Current Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar said in Pune that Natarajan’s confession that her decisions had been influenced by her party bosses was a good enough reason to review all the decisions taken by her.
Natarajan had become the environment minister in July 2011, taking over from Jairam Ramesh who had acquired the reputation of an ‘activist’ minister and someone who was deciding on project clearances on ideological grounds.
Jayanthi Natarajan letter: Here are the top 3 stalled projects which didn’t get environmental clearance
Niyamgiri: A bauxite mining project of the Vendanta group in the Niyamgiri hills of Orissa. The project was denied clearance in January last year, some time after Jayanthi Natarajan left office
Nirma case: A cement factory and limestone mining project in the Bhavnagar district of Gujarat. Earlier, this month, the NGT set aside the cancellation of the environmental clearance and gave go ahead to the project.
Adani port project: India’s largest private port along the Gujarat coast was slapped with a Rs 200 crore fine by the Environment Ministry during Jayanthi Natarajan’s term for damaging creeks and mangroves. The project was cleared last year in July after the NDA government came to power.
Another two projects – Lavasa township and GVL power plant – were also stalled.