After media sting, Jairam issues new notice against Jindal

Jairam Ramesh has ordered the Orissa government to take action against Navin Jindal’s Rs 25000 crore project in Orissa that was cleared by him a month ago.

He took the extraordinary decision after media reports that he had favored the Congress MP’s company by allowing it to take advantage of a circular that was in existence only for a month.

The circular, issued in January 6 this year, had changed the forest rules and made Jindal Steel and Power (JSPL’s) alleged violations no longer a crime. JSPL had been held guilty of having started construction on the Kerjang plant in 2009, before getting a mandatory forest clearance. However, the circular made it only “advisable” instead of “binding” not to start construction, giving relief to JSPL.

In a press note today, Jairam said he was personally not involved in the mess up.

“For some reason, the circular had been issued without my approval but after a discussion in the Forest Advisory Committee.. I took serious note of this lapse and immediately ordered that the status-quo ante should be restored,” he said today.

“It is beyond doubt that JSPL had started construction in non-forest land before getting the final forest clearance,” he added.

As a result, he said he is issuing a fresh notice to the Orissa state government to take action against JSPL.

“It is noted that JSPL started construction activity on the non-forest land without obtaining prior forestry clearance under the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980, which is not in consonance with the environmental clearance accorded to the project,” the new directive to Orissa government, sent today, read.

“In the light of the forgoing, the undersigned has been directed to request you to initiate action against the above unit by invoking powers under Section 19 of Environment (Protection) Act 1986 and intimate the Ministry about the action taken soon,” the new letter said.