Defence projects to get priority environment nod: Minister

New Delhi, Defence projects will be given priority in getting environmental clearance, and the ones in focus include the instillation of a radar station in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar Monday said here.

Javadekar, while interacting with women journalists at Indian Women's Press Corps (IWPC), said the ministry is focused on taking decisions on all projects pending for environment clearance, and series of meetings are being held.

"We have been meeting officials to look into the pending projects for environment clearance, and pending defence matters will be given priority," Javadekar said.

The minister said the government is looking into giving clearance to a project about setting up a radar station at the Narcondam Island in the Andaman and Nicobar chain of islands.

"There is the Coco Island in the Bay of Bengal which is under Myanmar. However, China has its presence on that island. There is a project pending to set up a radar on Narcondam Island, which is just opposite to the Coco Island. We are looking into the project," said Javadekar.

A tiny remote island in the Andaman and Nicobar Island group, Narcondam is home to about 300 Narcondam hornbills, a rare bird found nowhere else in the world. Environmentalists have advocated not giving clearance to the project to protect the bird.

The Indian Coast Guard has proposed to build the radar station and a diesel power generation unit on the island.

The minister also said among the projects to be granted clearance is an "ambitious strategic project" for securing Mumbai's coast line, and several coast guard stations along the Indian coast.

He, however, said the ministry is not plainly expediting clearances, but taking decisions after due consideration and "keeping national interest in mind".

Javadekar added said that post July 1, all applications for environmental clearances will be filed online, and the developments could be tracked online. Forest clearance applications will be online from August.

On a question on reducing pollution, Javadekar said the three focal areas for the government are reducing air and water pollution and solid waste management.

Asked about facing the challenge of climate change, he said: "We need to finding innovative scientific solutions and strict implementation of ongoing programmes for fighting climate change."


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