Shame, shame, Jairam Ramesh! The Minister is changing his no-compromise stance
Munira Dongre 10 February 2011

The minister seems to be in a tearing hurry to change his image as the saviour of all things —including the environment—and is handing out permissions to controversial projects left right and ‘Centre’

Oh how righteousness crumbles in the face of pressure from the high command... and possibly greed... and a government facing a huge deficit.

The environment ministry which was the one shining untainted beacon in the sea of mess that the government has become (2G, Adarsh, now Devas) is now dusting off some of its holier-than-thou sheen, or so it seems.

In a shocking, shocking move, environment minister Jairam Ramesh today gave permission to the Steel Authority of India (SAIL) to divert 595 hectares of forest land for mining iron ore in the West Singhbhum district of Jharkhand, saying that it is crucial for SAIL's future demand of raw material.

CNBC TV 18 said that the environment ministry also admitted that "[The] Chiria decision expedited on upcoming SAIL FPO." This is just downright shameful.

In giving out this order, Jairam Ramesh (who had achieved a demi-god like status, especially with young management graduates and college students for taking industrialists and other ministries which had violated environment norms head on) has rejected the advice of his own Forest Advisory Committee (FAC).

The reason"broader national interest"and the importance of these mines to the future of SAIL, a 'Maharatna' public sector company "with a good track record of corporate social responsibility (CSR)" and thus, "deserving of special treatment".

Unbelievable, but true. The FAC had said that Chiria was home to Asia's largest and best sal forests and also an important elephant habitat and that mining in this area could not be allowed.

Overriding these conditions with one sweeping stroke, Mr Ramesh has told the press that "Chiria is essential to the future of SAIL. Over the next 50 years, around 40% of the iron ore requirement of SAIL will be met from the Chiria mines... The existing steel plants at Bokaro, Burnpur, Durgapur and Rourkela will necessarily have to be run from iron ore coming from Chiria, once the mines presently feeding them are depleted in 10-12 years."

Therefore, economic concerns take precedence over environmental ones. Why not disband the environment ministry then, and ask the finance ministry to clear all pending permissions based on whether the project is going to make tonnes of money?

Every trend has a reversal and for now it seems that Jairam's benevolent star is no longer shining over India's hills and dales and has turned into a malevolent one.

Just a few weeks back, the minister had granted forest clearance to South Korean steel major POSCO's iron & steel plant in Jagatsinghpur district of Orissaeven in this case, the FAC had said that this will cause extensive damage and that permission should not be given.

The Saranda forests area is also home to tribal groups like the Hoof course, now Jairam is singing a completely different tune as far as the destruction of their natural habitat is concernedhe now claims that the mines will create employment opportunities in the area and eventually benefit these tribalswhy have rules to protect tribal environments in that case?

Why not just work for the economic uplifting of their lot and do away with their traditional ways once and for all?

There is little doubt about the fact that the minister has changed his tack. He is meeting Coal Minister Sriprakash Jaiswal todaythis is his second meeting in three daysand the agenda is to iron out inter-ministerial differences over the controversial No-Go issue.

Last year, the environment ministry classified heavily forested regions into 'Go' and 'No-Go' areas and banned mining in 'No-Go' zones. This had put on hold projects of all three ministriescoal, power and steeland had led to fierce inter-ministerial rows.

Clearly, Ramesh is trying to rebuild bridges. This process is likely to lead many a forest, sanctuary, and water reservoir to the sacrificial altar.

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1 decade ago
Jairam, the thug, the crook, should be heaped with more than just shame.

All the actions of the man are machinations of a political, manipulative mind. His is a ministry tasked to subjugate non-UPA states through environmental hassles to score political brownie points. Whereas the UPA states and decisions in UPA interests are made with a single stroke of a brush - Jaitapur Nuclear Plant clearance is a case in point.

It is time to kick Jairam the hypocrite and expose this scam.
nagesh kini
1 decade ago
munira has done an excellent reporting n Jairam's volta face on environmental issues succumbing to internal/external pressures. The nation had high hopes in this techie minister to deliver. BUT?
Shadi Katyal
1 decade ago
Mr. Ramesh does wear a crown and acts like a Czar. Will some one please let me know what is HIS QUALIFICATIONS? Why Coal which is needed for power was being stopped and now he has been shown the light that either make it green or GOI will show you the exit green light.
One doesn't play with the lives of millions because being Czar you dictate.
He has stood against many industrial and mining developments . He sounds more one still living in East India company Syndrom and thus anti MNC. We made the same mistake during Nehru and permit raj days and thus are now left in the dust. Our poverty has gone up and we been compared with Sahara region and yet we are sleep walkers. We ignore where the world is moving.
Vinay Isloorkar
1 decade ago

My sympathies lie with Jairam Ramesh. Uneasy lies the head that wears the Crown! He should remain true to his conscience and do a balancing act without bothering about pleasing people on all sides of the fence. Jairam Ramesh aage badho, hum tumhare saath hein!
Shadi Katyal
1 decade ago
One must recognize that if country wish to develop and remove or lower the poverty,India must develop and this talk of elimination of forest etc. is another road block for development. Many nations have developed and kept the forest development also. This call for not allowing industry and talk of environment shows lack of comp-let understanding of how the development of industry brings education,health and even potable water.. How people gets and learn new trades but somehow we are unwilling to move ahead.
Even Nehru said that new industries are the new places of worship and we must move on.
If anyone wish to compare the development of NANO, study the economic conditions of first selected plot in Bengal and one now workiing in Gujrat.
It is a pity that Mr. Ramesh has been a road block to development and has hurt the nation.
There should be a written law that any area which is developed for industry and thus looses any trees or forest, must have same number of trees planted in the ares.
In case of minning, the areas must be reclaimed and first preferences of jobs for people who will be displaced.One cannot keep the poor under for ever and some of the so called well wishers are enemy of these people.and wish to keep them under their thumb and thus have a constituency.
Mr. Ramesh so far has been acting like a Czar and has done more damage to nation in name of environment.Go and look at the garbage in every town, or animals openly walking in streets and leaving droppings and millions of flies. Is that environmental and healthy?
Replied to Shadi Katyal comment 1 decade ago
May i know your opinion on Jairam Ramesh move to STOP Genetically modified food ( GM Foods ) to be grown in India by MNCs ? Because, By the logic of development given by you, they should be allowed to be grown irrespective of the havocs they cause on humans, to be born infants and even on soil. These GM foods will give higher yield and money to country and the ill health they cause can easily be treated in the hospitals, that this money will be able to built . say what ?
No Wonder, India is the next Cancer Country of the century . It was all due to the ill sighted policies of the past that has resulted in this ( green revolution propaganda of pesticides , insecticides and chemical fertilizer usage ) . So with this landing of GM food ( which jai ram has thankfully refused in the end ) , we will only be hastening our own health decay. The garbage that is there in every town was there in the past too , when no environmental minister took the ministry seriously. If given a chance to few such individuals, may be this problem could also be solved. But with setting up of more such mines etc, It will only add to the miseries of our health and not less.
shadi katyal
Replied to Pankaj comment 1 decade ago
I have not mentioned anything about GM and Mr.Ramesh.I have written about his Czarian power to stop mining and other industry.
One should ask simple question to one self why are still so dependent on MNC as I feel you wish to blame all our problems on them like East India company syndrome.What have we done so far in our agriculture. Pesticide and fertilizers are a necessity and not human population multiplication.Why after so many years we have not improved our own seed resources. why??
As for GM other nations are using it and maybe our problems are due to our malnutrition and type of food consumption.
Look back and see whee the green revoulation came from not from INDIA.
Look at the amount of arbale land we have copared to China or anyother nation and see how low production of everything is there. We forget our is a land of eopns and being used and abused and yet we have survived but with new methods we must increase our production. I will be more than happy to give you details if you need.
Keep us this East India Company syndrome and let the nation keep getting poor. Are you aware that our malnutrition and poverty rate is creeping up as we wish to live in backward conditions.
Time to be pragmatic and move ahead
1 decade ago
Good that Ramesh has changed. Previously, GDP growth 8% x Ramesh = 0 % growth.
Now, with New Ramesh, it is = 10 % growth.
Dr Pankaj
1 decade ago
It need lots of Guts and moral values for one to remain unshaken in trying times. Surely, our leaders lack both of these. Jairam tried to display both , but failed..May be India and We Indians deserve such a fate ..... Those who seemed to be of impeccable records ( kapil sibal and jairam ) are acceding to the high command.But people are watching , dear.... It may not affect ur political carrers, but defiitely ur credibility takes a hit, ministers. But then, who gives a hoot to credibility in these fateful years of Indian culture.
1 decade ago
Unfortunately none of those who decide live in sync with nature around them and their own true self. Such folly will therefore keep happening! But nature will hit back sooner than later!
1 decade ago
i too would concur with jairam on this. the case of posco and vedanta is completely different from that of SAIL. bpth have faced huge local opposition and one has blatantly defied laws with the state govt on its side. hence the need for someone powerful to intervene. SAIL needs to be secured as its a very important PSU and this clearance shall bolster the valuation of the company. Giving out resources to pvt players without getting the market price for those resources is what makes scams like 2g. Giving clearance to SAIL will atleast help get back some benefit to the state. with poscos and vedantas , all thats going to happen is money change hands and anil agarwal moving higher on forbes list sitting in london
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