Photo: Indranil Bhoumik/Mint
Photo: Indranil Bhoumik/Mint

Green clearances take a back seat during general election

Since the electoral code of conduct came into place, the ministry has not cleared any project from a long-pending list

The ongoing elections have had an unlikely casualty—green clearances. Since the electoral code of conduct came into place on 5 March, the environment ministry has not cleared any project from a long list pending with them. Though the environment ministry had written to the Election Commission more than a month back to seek its views on granting clearances, it has not heard from the poll panel yet.

This means that officials in the ministry might not have any real work to do till the time the next government settles in—which might not be before June. By then, the environment ministry would have gone almost three months without granting an environment or forest clearance for any project.

At a time when the environment ministry was seen by industry to be standing in the way of development by not clearing projects fast enough, this is not be good news. The incumbent Congress had replaced Jayanthi Natarajan with M. Veerappa Moily to please business houses. During his short stint, Moily cleared more than 100 projects, some controversial, leading environmentalists to protest.

While industrialists will not be pleased with clearances coming to a halt for three months, environmentalists are happy that no projects will be given the go-ahead in a hurry and they have time to prepare before another minister takes charge of the ministry.