New Delhi: Unfazed by criticism from some
of his ministerial colleagues for delaying the green nod for
projects in ecologically sensitive areas, Environment Minister
Jairam Ramesh Wednesday said the "single biggest threat" to the
forests in the country is the "developmental threat".
"They (forests) not only face the existential threat from
encroachments... but they also face what is increasingly
becoming perhaps the single biggest threat to Indian forests,
which I call the developmental threat," Ramesh said at a
seminar organised by FICCI here.
Referring to some examples like Tadoba Andhari Tiger
Reserve (TATR), where he had refused to give environmental
clearances for various projects, Ramesh explained why his name
has figured in most of the reported conflicts among ministers
in the UPA government.
"These are issues that I think are very much in public
domain today and explain the reasons why I am present in 9 out
of 13 conflicts, according to one newspaper today," he said.
Speaking in the presence of Nobel laureate Prof Elinor
Ostrom, Ramesh said environmental issues should be addressed
"at a time when India is on high growth profile" and at a time
"we need to sustain ourselves on this growth profile".
The minister said encroachment threats, cattle threats
and threat to common property resources like forest from
people can be managed at the local level.
"But what can`t be managed is this growth dynamic," he
said. "And I think in area after area and forest area after
forest area, this is becoming the critical choice."
Agreeing with Ostrom, who had earlier said the
"institutional monoculture syndrome" should be avoided, the
Minister said there was "danger of institutional monoculture
when it comes to dealing with the problems of common property
resources like forests."