CAG: green clearance delayed in 90% projects

Most of the incidents were between 2012-15

CAG: green clearance delayed in 90% projects

In the last five years, close to 90% development projects received environment clearance after several months,  leading to long delays in executing them, the Comptroller and Auditor General said in a report.

Most of the delays happened between 2012 and 2015 (up to July) when Congress leaders Jayanthi Natarajan and M Veerappa Moliy, and BJP leader Prakash Javadekar occupied the posts of Union environment ministers.

Of 56 projects in 2012, clearances were delayed for as many as 54. The maximum delay was for 588 days (more than 19 months) and the average delay was 184 days or just about six months. In 2013, as many as 23 of 24 projects were delayed,  with the maximum delay of 820 days and an average delay of 231 days.

This was also the time when the then Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi and other BJP leaders publicly spoke about ‘Jayanthi tax’ in the environment ministry was derailing crucial projects.
Jayanthi, who resigned from Congress in January 2015, however, denied the existence of any ‘Jayanthi tax’, and challenged the Modi government to investigate to show any wrongdoing on her part.

The tendency of delaying the green sanction for developmental and infrastructure projects continued in the NDA government.

The CAG report, tabled in Parliament on Friday, showed that green approval for all 25 projects in 2014 and 38 of 42 projects in 2015 (up to July) came late.

In 2014, the average delay was 316 days and the maximum was 761 days. The following year, the average delay period was reduced to 238 days,  but the maximum delay was of 1,002 days even though Javadekar introduced an online project approval system to cut down on the delay.

Of the 216 projects between 2011 and 2015, which the CAG sampled for its auditing, only in 11% cases, the environmental approval was granted within the prescribed time limit of 105 days.

The audit watchdog also examined 352 projects sanctioned between 2008 and 2012 to find out the poor quality of compliance on the part of project proponents.

The best performing year was 2011 when Congress leader Jairam Ramesh was the minister till July.
Of 61 projects, 45 met with delays and the average delay was 86 days. Ramesh was succeeded by Jayanthi in the ministry.

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