Green activists launch online campaign opposing National Investment Board

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on March 12, 2018

An online campaign is on by green activists opposing the proposed National Investment Board (NIB) for fast-tracking environmental and other clearances for large infrastructure projects.

The petition, spearheaded by the Environmental Support Group, aims to collect about 1,000 signatures and send these to the Prime Minister and other senior Ministers before the Cabinet meeting slated to be held this week.

The NIB, proposed by Finance Minister P. Chidambaram, has already been opposed by his Cabinet colleagues, the Environment and Forests Minister Jayanti Natarajan and the Panchayati Raj and Tribal Affairs Minister Kishore Chandra Deo.

Deo has said, “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.”

Natarajan, in her recent letter to the Prime Minister, had expressed concern that the proposed NIB could end up substantially leveraging corporate interests over human rights and the environment. She had said giving projects worth “Rs 1,000 crore (approximately $200 million) or more a route for fast-track appeal,...does not contemplate giving a hearing to citizens, stakeholders, or NGOs, who may be aggrieved by the impact of the project.”

The Environment Minister said, "This concept is unacceptable. The NIB has no constitutional authority to decide on the failure of any minister... when the Minister of a Ministry takes a decision, there is absolutely no justification for an NIB to assume his/her authority. Nor will the NIB have the competence to do so."

Expressing similar concerns, the petition has called upon the PM to “immediately reject” the setting up of NIB, as it “militates against the national interest, compromises good governance, and imperils our cherished Constitutional legacy.”

While accepting that the present regime of clearances in India does suffer from several inefficiencies, the petition states that solution does not lie “in abandoning the existing constitutionally mandated clearance regime when it comes to high-risk (and high investment, and perhaps politically important) projects, but rather in augmenting the capabilities of our governance processes to overcome the myriad structural, personnel-based, political and investor-induced bottlenecks that impede the system.”

Published on October 15, 2012

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