Jairam hints at a new policy, after the cabinet reshuffle

Environment minster Jairam Ramesh has hinted at a more considerate policy towards companies in his post-reshuffle stint in environment ministry.

Using his special powers to over-turn a rejection of forest clearance to one of India’s biggest iron ore mines in Jharkhand on Wednesday, he said as a minister, he had to take a broader view. He, however, promised not to dilute the freedom of his officials in doing so.

He said he took full responsibility for making the compromise. “The Forest Advisory Committee will continue to focus single-mindedly on forest-related, biodiversity-related issues and concerns, while as a minister, I will have to necessarily take a broader view, but placing on public record in a complete manner, the reasons for taking that view,” he said.

Jairam survived the cabinet reshuffle of last month despite many powerful companies campaigning for his removal.

“Most of the time, I have accepted the recommendations of the Forest Advisory Committee. But there have been occasions when the FAC has recommended approval and I have exercised my own judgement and rejected,” he said. “On the other hand, there have been two occasions when FAC has recommended rejection and I have exercised my own judgement and overturned the FAC recommendation – the first being POSCO and the second being the present Chiria case,” he added.