New Delhi: As he faces criticism for
blocking development projects over `green` norms, Environment
Minister Jairam Ramesh on Thursday asked industry captains not to
look at environment as an issue of "activism" but of public
health that affects all.
"I would request all the captains of the industry to
please not look at environment as an impediment or bottleneck
or for that matter as a speed breaker," Ramesh said addressing
the who`s who from the automobile sector at a summit here.
He asserted that "environment is very much an integral
part of your expansion plan because increasingly we are having
evidence that there is a very strong co-relation between
environment quality and public health.
"As you tread environmentally benign growth path, please
do not look upon it (environment) as an issue of activism. It
is an issue of public health," he said.
"It affects me and you as everybody else...," Ramesh
said in an apparent bid to justify his decisions to halt
several projects for violating green norms, the most recent
ones being the Vedanta mining project in Orissa and proposed
Navi Mumbai airport in Maharashtra.
The minister stressed on the need for fuel efficiency
standards in the auto sector to ensure clean technologies.
He also questioned the automobile sector`s plan to
manufacture electricity-powered vehicles making it clear that
forests cannot be destroyed for extracting coals to be used as
power for locomotion purpose.
"From where is the electricity going to come for use for
locomotion purpose?" he asked.
"There is no magic bullet. We are stuck with the present
fuel such as petrol and diesel. In this background, we need to
improve fuel quality and automobile standards," Ramesh said.
He also favoured deregulation of diesel prices as is
being done in the case of petrol. "We have ended subsidising
diesel for automobile sector instead of for agriculture
sector," he said.