We are upgrading benchmarks to prevent scams: Prakash Javadekar
I&B and Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar in a candid Interview with Zee Business Deputy Editor Amish Devgan
Q1. Prakash Sir, your government had given a slogan to the country during your election campaign, "acche din". Can you now assert and say the same or does it sounds too good to be true?
Ans: Indeed, it is true! I would say, had UPA government been in power today, I can assert that the cost of tomatoes would have been around Rs. 100/kg and rice at Rs. 50/kg which essentially means that inflation would have been at its peak. We have implemented an effective vigilance system wherein the respective ministry takes a corrective action in case of any default or delay. Moreover, we have brought in the foodgrain stock that was stored in FCI godowns to the market benefiting the ultimate consumer.
I would say that controlling the inflationary rise via economic policy route might take some time. However, we have been able to control the prices of petrol which I believe is a splendid achievement by our government.
Q2. Jayanti tax..I am sure you remember this word Sir. Over the past few years, there has been a negative perception about the environment ministry especially in relation to delay in clearance of files. Do you believe that your ministry has taken significant steps to change this perception in these100 days as the term 'policy paralysis' is a creation of none other than the environment ministry.
Ans: I took control of the ministry in a very negative environment. Even Congress ruled states would agree to this, especially with respect to my ministry. We have implemented three important decisions with regard to policies. Now, the rights of upto 40 hectares of land have been decentralized and we allowed excessive state participation. So, I am now left with only 10 percent of the entire workload . So, I essentially implemented minimum governance and maximum governance as revered by PM Modi.
Q3. Sir, any important announcement that the environment ministry is likely to make in the immediate few days?
Ans: 'Paryavaran raksha aur vikaas saath-saath' is our slogan. We have taken some major initiatives. The first one being online application process which resulted in increased transparency. Today, around 180 cases of forest and environment clearances are in our online system. I am extremely delighted to present this as one of our major achievement.
Q4. Sir, you have initiated the process of online clearances. How far has the system gained speed in the past 100 days?
Ans: Indeed, there have been tremendous improvements. We are tracking the processing of files at every stage. So, the applicant gets the updated information of processing his/her file at every stage. Such an immense level of transparency was never in existence before. Earlier, the applicant used to be in complete oblivion.
Q5. Sir, do you believe the online system of clearances has benefited your ministry to a great extent?
Ans: We have taken decisions based on the policies. For instance, all the transmission lines road, rail, irrigation canal and other pipelines; if these were to pass through the forest, the task would have been herculean and earlier it used to remain pending for 5 odd years. So, we have now put this for automatic general approval. So that the respective state government would take a decision then and there. Moreover, we have brought strict rules for better afforestation.
Q6. Congress is targetting you on the grounds that in great haste, you may make some major mistakes.
Ans: No, we have taken due diligence considering the environment protection.
Q7. Sir, now let me talk about an important decision taken by the Supreme Court. The court found many irregularities in allocation of coal blocks. Will your government take tough stand against the culprits involved in the scam?
Ans: If the blocks are cancelled then they can stand good for bidding. If 50 percent of them are cancelled and the rest will remain valid. Whatever is the result of hearing in SC, it will take a final shape soon and the matter won't remain on the back-burner.
Q8. Being an environment minister, Sir, what steps are you going to take so that such scams don't take place in future?
Ans: We are upgrading the environmental benchmarks of every industry. For instance, cement industry is a major contributor to the environmental pollution. So, I have set higher benchmarks for this industry last week believing that it would help curbing pollution. And we are proceeding in the same direction for coal industry as well.
Q9. On 16th May NDA won with an unprecedented margin and Modi govt came to power on 26th May. Within these 100 days, elections were conducted in several states where the results were not quite pleasing for the BJP govt. Do you panic at the situation?
Ans: No. We feel state elections are highly concentrated and are based only on specific regional or local issues. Yes, Maharashtra, Jharkhand, Haryana and J&K are very crucial now. You should not co-relate these results with the national mandate.
Q10. But politically it is quite apparent that it is only BJP vs all. All the parties are getting together just to corner the BJP.
Ans: Let them. We are not worried as people have shown tremendous faith in the Modi government and rival parties are simply scared of us. We are extremely hopeful of coming out in flying colors in the upcoming election in these 4 states.
Q11. Recently, Shiv Sena made a comment saying that we can't only rely on Modi wave. Would you like to comment.
Ans: Every election is different. State elections are mandate of all supporting parties. Congress and Rashtravadi have looted people for last 15 years. Hence, we are confident of our win.
Q12. Your supporter Haryana Janhit Congress who has left the NDA and is going to contest the elections individually in the state. Do you think this is a matter of concern as the government has merely completed its 100 days in the office?
Ans: 'Bahumati sey nahi Sahamati sey kaam' said Modi. So, We want to essentially work with agreement let alone majority. It should be a team of PM and CM wherein Centre and the state work in tandem. It is a political decision taken by them.
Q13. Any CM who takes participation in Modi's programme faces embarrassment by public hooting. There have been recent cases like this.
Ans: Modi clearly made a statement saying that this was not acceptable. Such incidences in no way are related to our party in any manner.
Q14. Sir, you had made a surprise visit to your ministry recently, wherein some officers were missing during the working hours. Has the situation changed or rather improved after that incident?
Ans: I keep on making timely checks and I have complete faith in my people. Nobody, shies away from work. Indeed, the situation has improved since then.
Q15. BJP has time and again brought the matter of FDI to the fore. Your ministry has discussed the matter of bringing in 100 percent FDI in the field of media. Do we seen it happening soon?
Ans: Existing FDI in news media is 26 percent. We don't have any new proposal coming our way to increase the limit at this point.
Q16. Will DTH industry see good days ahead as they are grappling with double taxation and any big plans for TV industry?
Ans: Indeed. We have initiated the process of digitization with 12 cr set-top boxes. Now, DD will also be a part of the competition and we want to transform the make and look of the channel completely.
Q17. Sir, do you think the DTH industry will get some respite from double taxation. As you had made this point during the budget but Finance minister did not give it a green signal?
Ans: We are hopeful that the matter will be resolved in an year's time.
Q18. Recently, the issues of previous governors resigning attracted lot of flak. What's your take on this?
Ans: After the change of government, this is a natural process. All political appointees should follow this. I did this during my tenure as Deputy Chairman of Rajya Yojna Aayog in 1994-99.
Q19. Do you feel that Atal-Advai era in BJP has come to an end?
Ans: No, they are our patrons. Their guidance is important for us.
Q20. What would say about Rajnath Singhji's family controversy?
Ans: These are all rumours and all a big conspiracy by the Congress party.
Q21. Can you say that you are committed to fullfill all your promises?
Ans: Definitely. Self-attestation, 12 gas cylinders in a year. These might be minuscule things but are very significant.