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Ramesh favours middle ground to ensure growth

New Delhi: Facing heat from industrialists for delay in project clearance, Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh said he was in favour of a "middle ground" to ensure faster economic growth and also maintain ecological balance.

"The key word in my vocabulary is balance- I have to find the middle ground between faster economic growth and ecological security," the Minister told Outlook magazine.

"I know environmentalists have attacked me for the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) Notification, 2011, which has been hailed by the `growth-wallahs`. On the other hand, the GDP constituency has attacked me for refusing clearances to coal mines in rich forest areas which has been hailed by the environment types," he said.

Asked whether he had compromised on Vedanta and allowed the company to expand its refinery, Ramesh said, "On Vedanta, our position is that they violated the law in expanding the refinery from 1 mtpa (million tonne from annum) to 6 mtpa. The position has not challenged. All that we have said is that Vedanta must apply afresh for environmental clearance."

The Minister said the matter is now in the Orissa High Court since Vedanta has challenged the Ministry`s order.

Admitting that most Environment Impact Assessments (EIAs) are not upto the mark and favour corporates and not those affected by various projects, Ramesh said he was thinking of a new system, "whereby the Ministry has a roster of consultants/firms/institutions (like the panel of auditors) and the Ministry will have the EIAs done."

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