The NDA government today indicated it will take a fresh look at environmental clearances for projects granted or rejected by the previous UPA government in the light of former Union Minister Jayanthi Natarajan's allegation of interference by Rahul Gandhi.
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said the outbursts by the former Environment Minister against the Congress Vice President showed that the UPA government was a practitioner of "sadistic" economy and "crony capitalism". "I hope the Environment ministry now will go into each of these permissions which were granted and not granted and make sure that these are expeditiously dealt with only as per law and no other consideration," Jaitley told reporters.
Natarajan's letter to Sonia Gandhi "conclusively establishes" that it was not the statutory or mandatory considerations which weighed with the Congress but only "whims" of the leaders, the Finance Minister charged.
The Finance Minister was reacting to Natarajan's letter to the Congress President alleging that she had received specific requests from Rahul Gandhi on environmental clearances and consequently had rejected big ticket projects.
Terming Natarajan's charge of specific requests on green clearances as a "serious issue", Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar said he would review the files where allegations of extraneous influence have been mentioned.
"The revelations made by Jayanthi Natarajan in her letter to Sonia Gandhi, which have become public today, are a matter of great concern and is a serious issue," he said.
He said as environment minister, it is his duty to review those specific files where extraneous influence has been alleged as per the letter.
"I will definitely review those files and see what are the facts," Javadekar said. Jaitley said during UPA's regime, the growth rate was radically going down and one of the prime reasons for that was delay in approvals being granted to projects.
He said Natarajan's letter "conclusively establishes" that it was not the statutory or mandatory considerations which weighed with the ruling party.
"But what weighed with them was the whims of political leaders of the party as to who is to be granted environmental permission and who is not to be granted an environmental permission," the Finance Minister said.
In a scenario where whims overtake legal requirements, it becomes a textbook case of "crony capitalism, which the UPA was practising," he said.
Attacking the UPA regime further, Jaitley said that it was a practitioner of a "sadistic" economy which was vindictive in nature, wanting to teach some people a lesson while wanting to favour some others.
"This obviously had to be for corrupt and collateral reasons," he charged. Commerce Minister Nirmala Sitharaman also said it is appropriate that the green clearances given by the Environment Ministry during UPA rule should be reviewed.