New Delhi: Environment Minister Jayanthi Natarajan has written a strongly-worded letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh opposing any move to bypass required green clearances for mega project approvals by the proposed National Investment Board (NIB) mooted by Finance Minister P Chidambaram. The proposed NIB is envisaged to act as a final body for clearing big investment proposals after which no ministry will have power to raise objections.
Natarajan in her letter said that the NIB undermines the domain expertise of her ministry. The aim of the NIB is to fast track clearances and Natarajan claims that her ministry has given clearances three times ahead of targets. Natarajan's opposition came even as a Cabinet Note on the planned NIB was circulated to the ministries.
Concerned over delay in implementation of mega infrastructure projects, Chidambaram had recently proposed a Prime Minister-headed NIB to accord speedy clearance to big ticket projects. The Indian industry as well as several union ministries have repeatedly complained that environmental laws and clearances are becoming an impediment in country's growth story.
Chidambaram said on October 4 that a proposal to constitute a NIB is likely to be taken by the Cabinet at its next meeting. Several large projects involving investments of Rs 1.5 lakh crore are being held up because of delay in statutory clearances. At the meeting of full Planning Commission last month, Chidambaram had proposed that the NIB's authority should extend to proposals/projects where the investment is above a certain threshold.
Earlier in June, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had approved setting up of an investment tracking system to ensure speedy implementation of mega projects envisaging outlay of
over Rs 1,000 crore.
With Additional Inputs from PTI