7:10 am - Friday November 20, 2015

New policy to speed up eco clearances: Javadekar

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Manmohan’s offer to face CBI in coal scam "meaningless": Prakash Javadekar
Manmohan’s offer to face CBI in coal scam "meaningless": Prakash Javadekar

The Environment Ministry would soon announce a new policy to reduce the time lag for environmental and forest clearances, Union Environment and Forest Minister Prakash Javadekar said here on Sunday.

He said the environmental and forest clearance process had been made more transparent.

Interacting with the media here, Mr. Javadekar said the government would shortly come up with a buyback policy for electronic goods to deal with electronic waste.

The Minister said all applications for environmental and forest clearances were to be made online.

The Ministry would deal with the 180 applications received so far within the next three months. “Now there is no need to meet me, my officers or visit the Ministry. The progress can also be checked online. The system is transparent unlike in the UPA where the Ministry was seen as ‘speedbreaker’ to development,” he said. “Our decisions are based on policies and not on individuals.”

The Ministry, he said, was in the process of testing a policy to reduce the time taken for grant of project approvals based on due diligence towards environmental issues. We hope to announce it shortly, he said.

‘e-waste, a concern’

Describing e-waste as a major concern, Mr. Javadekar said: “We will make it mandatory for the manufacturing companies to buy back used electronic items and ensure its disposal is scientific because e-waste is a huge environmental concern. The scheme is foolproof and we will launch it soon,” he announced.

Further, the Ministry has reduced its workload by empowering its regional offices to grant approvals for diversion of forest land of up to 40 hectares in collaboration with the State governments. Earlier, all approvals for forest clearances of more than 5 hectares were referred to the Centre.

“We have reduced our files by one-third through decentralisation. Similarly, no Central clearance will be required by States sharing international borders for fencing of up to 100 km. This has been done keeping in mind the national security,” the Minister explained.

Pointing out that the Ministry’s target was to achieve 33-per cent forest cover in the country, Mr. Javadekar said the Centre would incentivise States that increased their forest cover and give more attention to those which were unable to do so.

‘Pakistan must avoid tension along border’

India has warned Pakistan over frequent ceasefire violations and said it must avoid increasing tension along the border.

Mr. Javadekar said: “Talks on border are being continued in flag meetings and Pakistan is being given a befitting reply on the borders.”

“We are always worried about Pakistan… what is happening there. The former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee used to say, ‘you can choose a friend, not a neighbour.’ Pakistan is our neighbour,” Mr. Javadekar said.

“We want stability and prosperity in Pakistan because that is how we both [India-Pakistan] can progress together… But unfortunately, the fragility being seen in Pakistan has made the situation a little difficult. We will try our best for good relations,” he said. “What Pakistan is doing for the last 15 days reflects its domestic situation,” he said in response to a query on the ongoing political turmoil in the neighbourhood.

On economy, Mr. Javadekar said the petrol prices had been reduced twice so far and despite a bad monsoon the prices of essential commodities had remained under control. He said whenever the prices of crude oil came down, “we pass on the relief to the consumers immediately.”’

The prices of essential commodities too had remained under check. We were able to arrest price rise because the government released 100 lakh tonnes of wheat and rice in the open market which prevented hoarding by black marketers, the Minister added.

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