Sonia, PM differ on development

Sending out a clear message to the government, Sonia made it clear that the Congress would not approve development at the cost of environment. She said her party would not favour acquiring large fertile tracts for industrial purposes.

“We definitely need to generate more power from different sources to meet the growing demands from our farmers, our factories and our people. Economic growth is built on greater electricity production and consumption.

“At the same time, we must protect the environment to ensure sustainable development,” she said after dedicating to the nation the Stage II of the National Thermal Power Corporation’s project in Dadri in Uttar Pradesh. “In whatever we do,” she said, “we must not forget that our lush forests and mountains, majestic rivers and all other water sources, and clean air have sustained and nurtured us for millennia. We have a responsibility to preserve them for the coming generations.”

Her remarks come just two days after the prime minister told a select group of senior journalists that development must be ensured at all costs. “We cannot solve problems by perpetuating poverty in the name of environment. If mineral wealth of the country cannot be exploited, economic growth will be affected. We need a balance between environmental concerns and poverty eradication,” Singh said on Tuesday.

Sonia’s comments appeared to be significant in the backdrop of the debate over Vedanta Resources’ proposed bauxite mining project at Niyamgiri Hills in Orissa.

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