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‘Regularisation of Illegality’ – India’s Environment Minister Helpless in Taking action against Ecological Destruction

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India’s rapidly growing economy is taking a big toll on its environment as large business group ride roughshod on environmental rules and regulations as they build massive infrastructure projects.Protests by local people are frequently suppressed by police firing as the bureaucracy and the investigative agencies have been co-opted by the “corporate mafia”.Large projects like POSCO mega steel plant in Orissa,the Jaitapur Nuclear Power Plant in Maharashtra and the Lavasa township in Pune have been given the go ahead despite strong protests.The Lavasa township has been built through a conspiracy by powerful politicians and business despite having questionable economic benefits for India.Norms and regulations were violated and bent to favor the building of the township whose long term ecological sustainability is highly questionable.Despite flouting the rules blatantly,Lavasa township has been given the go ahead as third party investors have put money.This “Regularization of Illegality” is highly prevalent in the real estate sector where illegal buildings come up and then are regularized as demolishing them would lead to public disorder.

Though the environment ministry has improved in recent times,it has regularly bowed to the wishes of the business sector.The decision to allow mining in sensitive forest “no go” areas was given after pressure from the steel and coal ministries.India’s  environment minister Jairam Ramesh has pleaded helplessness as he is too being forced to go along with these environmental destructive projects.This is a characteristic which is peculiar to India and has allowed the culture of corruption to flourish.If you build a large enough project with enough billions in investment you can get away with the murder of the environment as the government could destroy such a large investment.These ad hoc measures which lead to construction of illegal projects has been leading to the destruction of ecology in a large scale manner.Only a blanket demolition of all structures built illegally irrespective of the cost will lead to the lessening of the corruption in the business sector.

I have been forced to ‘regularise illegality': Jairam

Opposing ‘regularisation of illegality’ which he described as ‘a peculiar Indian characteristic’, Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh on Friday said that many times he too has been forced to compromise in cases of violations of green norms.”Regularisation of illegality is a peculiar Indian characteristic. First you make the law and then break law,” he said.Narrating the practice of construction of ports, cement factories and power plants being built violating laws, the minister said in such cases ‘huge expenditure has been incurred’ and ‘one has to be practical’ when taking action.


Abhishek Shah

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