New Delhi: Congress on Monday steered clear
of Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh`s statement suggesting
that he had to act under pressure from the government and a
party leader on the issue of Maheshwar dam project in Madhya
"Minister of Environment and Forest is fully competent
to any clarification regarding any statement, which he may or
many not have made. It will be appropriate to direct these
questions to him," party spokesperson Manish Tewari told
He was asked to comment on the statement of Ramesh,
who while removing his earlier order of banning the work at
the site of Maheshwar dam a few days back, had said "I have
no option but to agree to lifting of the stop-work order on
the construction of the last five spillway gates."
Ramesh in his order on Friday noted that besides the
Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh pleading for the ban order to
be revoked, Congress general secretary Digvijay Singh too had
lobbied to revoke the orders and the PMO had taken active
interest in the case.
The Environment Minister had recorded that he had
amended his order in May 2010 after the PMO intervened to
allow some work to take place while the work on the five
spillway gates continued to be banned.
He noted that the pre-condition of the green clearance
given earlier continued to be violated with the villages
still not resettled.
Digvijay Singh, defended his decision to intervene in
the issue. "Yes. I did intervene to get the project completed
to generate power and provide water to Indore city. Of course
Relief and Rehabilitation is the responsibility of the state
government and they have committed to complete these on time,"
Singh told a news agency.
The Maheshwar dam, which got environmental clearance
in 2001, is designed to deliver 400MW of power and supply
drinking water to several towns in central India.
But in February 2010, the ministry blocked
construction of the final set of gates because of poor
progress on rehabilitation of about 9,400 families that would
be affected by land submerged by the project.
Twenty-two of the planned 27 gates of the Maheshwar
dam are already operational.
Senior Congress leaders, however, tried to downplay
the entire issue, saying that is Ramesh` style of functioning.
Leaders also said there was nothing wrong in a senior party
leader advocating a cause and this cannot be called an interference.
"If some politician makes a recommendation for
thinking and a minister takes it as interference, it means the
issue has not been taken in its right context," he said. The
leader also found nothing wrong in Ramesh recording these
things in the report saying that this is not a big issue.
At the AICC briefing, Tewari said, "As a minister of
India, he (Ramesh) is responsible to the Prime Minister
and it will not be appropriate for us to impinge on it," when
asked whether the party does not feel that he has been
speaking out of turn on many issues.