Praful Patel admits UPA's "failure" in grounding mega projects

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Praful Patel admits to UPA's loopholes
Bhubaneswar, Jan 21: Admitting "failure" of the UPA government in grounding several mega projects in a time-bound- manner, Union Minister for Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises, Praful Patel today blamed it on the environmental "activism within the government".

"I must acknowledge that we in the government have not done enough to be able to clear suspicion or uncertainty over many projects which we could have resolved easily. However, we have not been able to resolve these issues," Patel said while speaking at a function here.

Identifying environmental clearance as the major hurdles before the major projects, he said completion of mega projects in India in a time-bound manner is an urgent need of hour to achieve the desired economic growth.

Expressing his displeasure over the manner in which the environmental clearance was being given, Patel said "I as the Union Civil Aviation Minister know how the development of Bhubaneswar Airport was delayed by one-and-half year due to environmental clearance. Bhubaneswar already had an existing terminal. It was required to extend the terminal. But, as the cost expansion was above Rs 50 crore, it required environmental clearance."

Later during an interaction session, Patel admitted existence of environmental activism within the government. Patel said "it is very important for a country to build mega projects and change the economic landscape. Think of Rourkela, Bokaro, Bhilai or Durgapur.... where would the region be today if we didn’t have those mega projects?"

On the interminable delays in execution of mega projects of about Rs 15,000 crore, Patel said most of them are stuck because of environmental clearances. Citing instance of a recent Cabinet meeting, Patel said how Coal India could not produce more coal as it didn't have facilities to evacuate its produce. "There was a proposal to build 1000-km long railway line to move that coal... but unfortunately the Environment Minister and the secretary was absent and a decision couldn't be taken."

On Odisha issues, Patel pointed out that the state is sitting on 100 years of coal reserves. "What is the point of having that coal if you can't utilise them now? In another 25-30 years, coal will become redundant for its high emission and other reasons... And this, in the face of India is importing 10-12 billion dollar of coal every year," he added.

Stating that there had been demand from people for jobs and employment as they have already got schools and hospitals, Patel said those could only be solved if the country has enough of mega projects.

"It is unfortunate if we can’t give jobs to such a workforce just because the mega-projects are delayed," the Union Minister said.


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