ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Crass Decision

The union government is bent on making the environment subservient to the demands of industry.

From the experience of Jairam Ramesh and Jayanthi Natarajan it would appear that the reward for any minister of environment and forests who follows the mandate given to him/her is dismissal from his/her job. Given that both these persons remain important Congress leaders, close to its president Sonia Gandhi, the only explanation that seems plausible for the summary manner in which both were removed is that any attempt to ask for the basic implementation of environment and forest laws – which we are also told are among the shining examples of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government’s achievements – makes industry and its champions extremely nervous. In fact, so nervous that the “growth-at-any-cost” cabal in government is willing to even disturb the delicate balance of power between the Congress president and the prime minister’s office.

Jairam Ramesh was considered a proactive environment minister when Jayanthi Natarajan was brought in to replace him in order to make the environment ministry more growth and industry friendly. Her short tenure was not marked by any major push on environmental issues; rather she was seen as someone who merely followed the set laws, rules and procedures for granting environmental clearances for industrial projects. It is an indication of how environmentally devastating is the “business-as-usual” model of economic development we follow that even the most basic adherence to environmental laws leads to howls of “obstructionist” and “anti-development” from the “growth-at-any-cost” cabal of ministers and businessmen.

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