Navi Mumbai airport: Ball not in Centre's court, says Ramesh

Mumbai: Environmental clearance to the Navi Mumbai International Airport is not pending with the Centre, Minister of State for Environment and Forests Jairam Ramesh said here on Saturday.

"The ball is not in the Central Government's court," he told reporters on the sidelines of a state-level meet on climate change.

The City and Industrial Development Corporation of Maharashtra Limited (CIDCO), had in 2009 sought Terms of Reference (ToR) under the Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) Notification for establishment of the Airport, he said.

The project was appraised by the Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC) and the Committee finalised ToR and additional ToRs for carrying out the EIA Studies.

"On February 8 this year, we communicated to CIDCO that it should submit the Environment Impact Assessment Studies as per the additional ToRs," he said.

On the power projects in coastal districts of the state, he said the Maharashtra Government has been asked to study the carrying capacity of Ratnagiri and Sindhudurg districts where the power projects, with a total generation capacity of over 35,000 MW, are planned.

Nagpur-based National Environmental Engineering Research Institute could be roped in to undertake the study in the Konkan region, Ramesh said.

The government plans to make the state load-shedding free in the next three years but has met with stiff opposition from the agitating green lobby, protesting against the development of these power projects.

"If the state government asks us, the Centre will impose curbs on new mining projects in the two districts," Ramesh said.

Maharashtra forest cadre very badly managed: Ramesh

Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh today ticked off Maharashtra Forest Minister Patangrao Kadam, saying the state forest department cadre was very badly managed.

"Maharashtra forest department cadre has been very badly managed over the last 15 to 20 years," Ramesh said, addressing a state level meet on climate change.

Kadam, who along with Rural Development minister Jayant Patil was present, was seen squirming as the minister made those remarks. Lok Sabha member Supriya Sule organised the programme.

The Finance Commission has given Rs 5,000 crore grant for forestry work to states and Maharashtra's share is Rs 350 crore, the minister said. "This is a lot of money for a department that starts at 11 am and ends at 11.30 am," Ramesh said.

"The forest department should have an independent opinion. They can't be told," he said, adding "what it (forest department) has been starved of is real leadership."

Funds allocated for pollution control work in Sangli district, from where Kadam and Patil hail, have not yielded result, he said.

"Rs 900 crore have been spent on Ganga over last 20 years. But the river is as polluted today as it was then," the minister said.