Suggested compromise on `Go, No-Go` areas: Ramesh

Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh on Saturday said he has not abandoned the `Go, No-Go` policy of classifying forest areas but suggested a "compromise" that could allow coal mining on more land to meet the country`s needs.

Updated: Apr 09, 2011, 15:23 PM IST

New Delhi: Environment Minister Jairam
Ramesh on Saturday said he has not abandoned the `Go, No-Go` policy
of classifying forest areas but suggested a "compromise" that
could allow coal mining on more land to meet the country`s
needs.

Ramesh said he had made a few suggestions at the
meeting of the Group of Ministers, chaired by Finance Minister
Pranab Mukherjee on Thursday, and it was up to the GoM to take
a final view on the issue.

"I have given some suggestion for bringing about a
compromise. Let us see. It is up to the GoM to take a final
view," he told reporters on the sidelines of a CII function
here.

At the same time he added, "I have not called for an
abandonment of the `Go, No-Go` concept, but I have said within
the `Go, No-Go` areas, how best to accommodate the needs of
the
country for coal production".

Ramesh said with nuclear power becoming an area of
concern and hydel projects facing opposition from public
because of displacement issues, the focus was shifting more to
thermal power to meet the energy requirements of the country.

The minister said suggestions made by him would not be
retrospective and would lead to more coal production.

The Environment Ministry had in 2009 classified the
country`s heavily forested regions into `Go` and `No-Go`
regions and a ban was imposed on mining in No-Go zones through
an indicative categorisation on environmental grounds.

The move had sparked off an intense inter-ministerial
debate with the Coal, Power and Steel ministries pitching
against Ramesh.

The `No-Go` classification by the ministry had
disallowed mining in 203 coal blocks, having a potential of
660 million tonnes of production a year.

Interacting with the industry players who raised the
issue of stalled projects on environmental grounds, Ramesh
made it clear that as long as laws are there it is his duty to
enforce them.

"If any project is in trouble, it is because that
project has wilfully or unconsciously broken a law of the land
whether, it is environment law, forest law or coastal
protection law.

"As long as laws are there, my duty is to enforce
them. If I am enforcing it selectively, arbitrarily, haul me
up. But don`t haul me up for enforcing the law," he said.

Ramesh agreed with the industry that there must be
clarity and consistency in environmental laws.

"If clarity and consistency are there, nobody would
mind observing the law," he said.

He also said if the green laws have outlived their
utility, they could be changed like it was done in the case of
the Coastal Regulation Zone notification of 1991.

"Laws enacted should always be subject to review every
15-20 years," Ramesh said.

PTI