Jayanthi expose: lessons for economy and environment

Her letter is not a result of Congress debacle, it is more about reasons behind it

ashishm

Ashish Mehta | January 31, 2015 | New Delhi


Jayanthi Natarajan
Jayanthi Natarajan

Former environment minister Jayanthi Natarajan has alleged that Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi had asked her to withhold green clearances to several industrial projects. The Hindu has leaked her letter dated November 5, 2014 to party president Sonia Gandhi, and now the Tamil Nadu leader has also quit the party.


At one level, her outburst and exit is a result of the UPA debacle in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, which has led to several Congress leaders to quit the party and move on to BJP. At another level, more than a result, her letter bares the cause of the UPA debacle: misgovernance, personal whims and fancies taking priority.


In the process, it was not only economy that suffered damage, environment also went for a toss. On one hand, the economic growth noose-dived, affecting millions of lives, as proposed projects didn’t take off: arguably the one of the two or three prime reasons for the UPA loss in polls. On the other hand, the environmental clearances – and non-clearances – of the UPA regime now come under doubt: who knows which project was stalled due to Rahul Gandhi’s newfound interest in environment and tribal rights, instead of substantial ecological factors?


NDA’s environment minister successor Prakash Javadekar in his initial remarks after taking charge of the ministry hinted that he would more growth-friendly in deciding green clearances. That kind of a stance makes sense in the light of Natarajan’s revelations, but is not justifiable otherwise. The ministry has been renamed to include the term ‘climate change’, but what is really needed is to make its role meaningful, in protecting and nurturing environment beyond just granting clearances to more than 90 percent of industrial applications, and not granting the same when political masters call.

 

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