Don`t get mesmerized by figures of investment: Jairam

Ramesh said, if laws of the land have to be implemented in its seriousness, then some sacrifices will have to be made.

Last Updated: Nov 20, 2010, 00:17 AM IST

New Delhi: Unfazed by the industry`s criticism for prescribing strict green norms, Union
Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh today said tough choices will have to be made as there is a need to take a long-term view instead of getting "mesmerized by figures of investment".

Maintaining that he is "anything but an activist", Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh said "but if laws of the land have to be implemented in its seriousness, then some
sacrifices will have to be made".

"Nothing that I have done is new," Ramesh said adding all that he has sought to do it to implement the existing laws on environment protection that have been passed by Parliament.

"The debate is that: are you going to change or navigate it (the laws) as you did in last 30 years or are you going to follow it," Ramesh said.

The minister made the remarks while addressing an interactive session at Hindustan Times Leadership Summit programme here.

The minister termed as "tiny and miniscule" the number of industrial projects which were scarpped or denied sanction, as and said 95 percent of them have got the ministry`s approval.

"But We should also have the courage to say `No`. There are a number of isntances where the answers have necessarilyto be no," he added.

Describing the categories of his ministry`s responses to various industrial projects, he said in a ligheter vein that the responses were "yes, No and Yes and but". He said it was `No` in case of Vedanta mining project in Orissa but `Yes` for Navi Mumbai airport project. On South Korean company POSCO`s steel project in Orissa, he, however, refused to say anything.

Ramesh said that in coming days there could be less and less of "plain vanila yes" and "more of yes and but". The minister said people will respond to tough decisions if they are convinced that the decision has been taken in a transparent manner but for that "the reason behind Yes, No and Yes and But should be in public domain in time".

He also refused to read any dichotomy between the stand of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress President Sonia Gandhi over environment versus development debate but maintained that divergent views on such matters, which are
natural, need to be reconciled.

On accusations of delaying power projects, Ramesh sought to remind that before his present capacity as Enviorment Minister he was also a Power Minister and hence was
fully aware of what alternatives the latter has.

He wondered why nobody wants to carry out mining work in "Go Area" which is 65 percent of the total land maintaining that forest cover is as important as power production.

Referring to his view that SUVs are diesel-guzzlers and as such a burden on economy and that there should be a fuel policy, Ramesh said "if you look at the number of cars in
India, you will not have an idea that we are importing 90 percent of the fuel we consume".

PTI