Ready to discuss ‘no-go’ definition: Jairam Ramesh

Friday, December 24, 2010

NEW DELHI - Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh Friday said he is ready to discuss a more liberal definition of “no-go” areas where mining activities were prohibited on environmental concerns.

“I am ready to sit down and discuss a more liberal definition of what is ‘no-go.’ I am open-minded at every step,” Ramesh told reporters here.

Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia had Wednesday questioned the concept of “go, no-go” areas devised by the environment ministry.

According to Ahluwalia, the country’s infrastructure-led growth plans may be hit if coal-bearing areas remained out of bounds for mining.

Ramesh said the concept of “go, no-go” was not defined by his ministry but chairman Coal India.

“It was the chairman Coal India that suggested to me that why can’t we have ‘go and no-go’ areas. I said damn good idea,” he said.

Ramesh said the environment ministry and the coal ministry worked out a plan where 65 percent of forests were declared “go” where mining can be done and rest 35 percent was “no go” where mining cannot be done as they have thick forest, wildlife and water resources which are important ecologically.

“Now people are saying why 35 percent, why not 30 percent, 20 percent or 10 percent. It is not Azadpur mandi type of handling we are doing in go and no go areas,” he said.

“Now suddenly I am being accused of being an obstructionist. I find this debate completely unbalanced. It is unfortunate that a personal attack was launched on me. There is no personal agenda here,” he added.

Speaking on the delay in a final decision on the South Korean steel major POSCO for its $12 billion project in Orissa, Ramesh said a final decision will be taken in next two-three weeks.

“I hope to bring closure to POSCO issue in next two to three weeks. It is a complicated issue and I have to be sensitive to it.”

The environment ministry has put on hold a POSCO project, citing violations of environment and forest laws by the company.

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