NEW DELHI:Union Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar on Tuesday reiterated that the BJP-NDA Government would investigate whether there was any extraneous influence in granting clearances to various projects during the tenure of former Environment Minister Jayanthi Natarajan, who quit the Congress after accusing Congress deputy chief Rahul Gandhi of pushing for certain projects. Javadekar had also alleged that it was not just the UPA Ministers, but even the then Prime Minister was powerless as Congress supremo Sonia Gandhi had interfered in important decisions taken by the government.
“Jayanthi mentioned certain files and omitted some. But she shed light on what was happening in the Ministry of Environment and Forests(MoEF). One thing is clear that, during the UPA rule, the Prime Minister held the job but he was not in charge,” Javadekar told reporters here. He said his ministry was in the process of getting details of those files that were specifically mentioned by Jayanthi, to find out irregularities if any.
Jayanthi had sparked a controversy after her letter to Sonia, pointing out specific requests made by Rahul with respect to project clearances, became public.
Jayanthi said in the letter, “In several cases, including the stalled GVK power project, Lavasa project in Maharashtra and Nirma cement plant in Gujarat, I was given specific inputs to make my decision”. She also said clearance to Vedanta mining project in Niyamgiri Hills in Odisha was declined after Rahul objected to the project.
Jayanthi had been criticised by the industry for delaying clearances for key infrastructure projects. She was said to be sitting on several big ticket projects for months for no apparent reason.
She was removed in December 2013 and M Veerappa Moily was brought in to ensure faster clearances.
As per the document prepared by the MoEF in 2014, over 350 files were held back by her and half of them were unsigned.