New Delhi: Congress Leader Veerappa Moily is set to take over as the next Environment and Forests Minister on Tuesday. This after Jayanathi Natarajan resigned last week to help with the party's preparations for the coming 2014 Lok Sabha elections.
This even as a controversy has erupted over Jayanthi Natarajan's resignation as the Minister of Environment and Forests and questions are being raised over the reason why she was removed from the ministry. While the Congress has maintained that the step was taken as she wanted to work for the party ahead of 2014 Lok Sabha polls, reports suggested that Natarajan had to quit because the party wanted to assuage industry worries about delays in environmental clearances for projects.
As Petroleum Minister Veerappa Moily has replaced Natarajan, questions are also being asked over the choice since the petroleum industry has often been at odds with green groups.
Natarajan was quick to defend the party over her resignation and said, "I have given resignation so that I can devote my energy for party work. It is some kind of vested interest causing speculations and it's completely untrue. Not a single project was wrongly denied permission. I am surprised that I even have to answer these questions, this is totally baseless. Rahul is talking about transparency which we are already implementing. Rahul also said that environment is equally important and what he has said is absolutely right."
When asked about Moily replacing her, she said, "It is not my business to comment. It is completely the Prime Minister's prerogative and it's not right for me to comment on this."
The timing of her resignation has also been questioned as she quit the Cabinet just hours before party Vice President Rahul Gandhi told industry leaders at FICCI that the burden of slow decisions was hurting growth.
Rahul said, "Many of you have expressed your frustration with environmental clearances that are delaying projects unduly. There is excessive administrative and judicial discretion. The loopholes are so big you can drive a truck through some of them! Environmental and social damage must be avoided but decisions must also be transparent, timely and fair."