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Timely clearance for green projects: President

By The Assam Tribune

New Delhi, June 9 (IANS): President Pranab Mukherjee Monday outlined the green focus of the government, saying it would ensure timely clearance for environment projects and also formulate "clear and transparent" policies on allocation of key natural resources like coal, minerals and spectrum.

In a joint address to both houses of parliament, President Mukherjee also said the government would focus on cleaner fuels to reduce pollution, work with the global community to fight climate change and rejuvenate the Ganga river.

On allocation of key natural resources, over which the previous UPA government faced a lot of flak for alleged wrongdoing, President Mukherjee said: "In the recent past, serious concerns have been expressed regarding use of discretionary powers in allocation of our precious natural resources."

"The government will formulate clear and transparent policies on allocation of critical natural resources such as coal, minerals and spectrum," he said.

The government would balance environmental conservation with development.

"While putting the country on a high growth path, my government will keep sustainability at the core of our planning process. My government strongly believes that environmental conservation can go hand in hand with development," Mukherjee said.

He said a time-bound and transparent system for environment clearances will be set up for this.

"To achieve this, environment and forest clearance systems will be made more predictable, transparent and time-bound. Simultaneously, an effective system will be developed for sound appraisal processes and strict compliance of clearance conditions, especially those relating to rehabilitation of displaced communities and regeneration of forests," he said.

Union Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar, while taking over his office last month. announced that the ministry would unveil an online system for environmental clearance of projects that would be time bound, transparent and accountable.

The president said cleaner fuels will be promoted to bring down pollution levels in cities.

"The government will earnestly take up mitigation works to meet the challenges posed by climate change and will closely work with the global community in this regard," he said.

With Prime Minister Narendra Modi focusing on cleaning the Ganga river, Mukherjee said the government will ensure a clean Ganga with perennial flow in the river.

"River Ganga is a part of our rich cultural heritage, a symbol of faith and the lifeline for millions. However, Ganga continues to remain polluted with many stretches of the river becoming dry in lean season. My government will take all necessary steps to ensure a perennial, clean and pristine Ganga," Mukherjee said.

The president added that conservation of the Himalayas is also a priority area.

"Conservation of Himalayan ecology will be a priority area for my government. A National Mission on Himalayas will be launched," he said.

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