Against the backdrop of a move to set up National Investment Board (NIB) for speedy clearances to major infrastructure projects, Tribal Affairs Minister V Kishore Chandra Deo today said there should be “total adherence” to the Forest Rights Act (FRA) and related laws before any nod is given to any project in such areas.

“No environment clearance should be given to any project until there is total compliance with the Forest Rights Act (FRA) and also unless the provisions of Panchayat Extension to Scheduled Areas (PESA) are fully met,” he told PTI here.

He insisted that compliance with FRA and PESA should not be seen as anti-investment but “the law has been made to protect few things and it should be followed.”

His comments assume significance as plans are afoot to set up NIB headed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to give speedy clearances to mega projects amid concerns over delay.

The proposal for setting up NIB was expected to be considered by the Union Cabinet yesterday but it has been put off amid opposition from some sections of the government.

Environment and Foreest Minister Jayanthi Natarajan has written a letter to the Prime Minister, expressing “very serious concern” over the move and contending that it would benefit only large investors and not ordinary local people.

On whether his views amounted to opposing the NIB proposal, Deo said, “I am not aware of it as I am not the member of this Board. I have not been informed.”

The NIB, which will have powers to overrule respective ministries in terms of giving clearances, is proposed to include Finance Minister and Law Minister.

“The law is there to protect the rights of tribals and not to be tampered with,” Deo underlined.