Millennium Post

Jaitley to revisit UPA’s green clearances

Following the allegations hurled against Congress leadership by former environment minister Jayanthi Natarajan, finance minister Arun Jaitley on Friday said the previous UPA government was a practitioner of “sadistic” economy and “crony capitalism” and has sought a review of environmental projects granted clearance or rejected permission during the UPA regime. The senior BJP leader’s statement came after Natarajan accused the Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi of interference in green clearances for several high-profile projects.

Natarajan’s letter to Congress president Sonia Gandhi “conclusively establishes” that it was not the statutory or mandatory considerations that weighed with the Congress but only “whims” of the leaders, Jaitley charged. “I hope the Environmental ministry now will go into each of these permissions which were granted and not granted and make sure that these are expeditiously dealt with only as per law and no other consideration,” said Jaitley.

Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar termed this as a “serious issue.” He said, “The revelations made by Jayanthi Natarajan in her letter to Sonia Gandhi, which have become public today, are a matter of great concern and is a serious issue. I will definitely review those files and see what the facts are.”

Earlier in the day in Chennai, former environment minister in the UPA II government Natarajan resigned from the Congress party. “I announce my resignation. I have not yet sent the letter, will send it after the press conference,” she told reporters. In a scathing attack on Rahul Gandhi, she said she followed his directions on green nod to projects but was “vilified, humiliated and sidelined” by central leadership.

Meanwhile, her detractors in Tamil Nadu state Congress indicated that Natarajan’s exit could be followed by that of former finance minister P Chidamabaram and his son Karti, who was under the scanner of the NDA government. The leader of their faction, GK Vasan has already left the party. “I feel that the time has come now for me to rethink my association because of what happened in the recent past. The Congress is no longer the Congress that I joined,” said an anguished Natarajan.

In her letter Natarajan claimed that she had stopped several big projects like Vedanta, Nirma and Adani, among others, after facing the “wrath and anger” of Cabinet colleagues who said this would hurt economic progress as “specific inputs were received from the office of Rahul Gandhi based on the representation by NGOs raising environment concerns on certain large projects.” Meanwhile the Congress refuted all charges levelled by her. “All assertions by Natarajan are factually wrong,” said Congress spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi in New Delhi. Obviously referring to the BJP, Singhvi said, “Jayanthi is acting at the behest of her new ‘political masters’ who may have got evidence against her.

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