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Conflict of interest: Gupta was environment secy when Posco was cleared Read more: Conflict of interest: Gupta was environment secy when Posco was cleared

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Nitin Sethi, TNN, Oct 19, 2010, 04.34am IST

NEW DELHI: Three of four members on the Meena Gupta committee have written to environment and forests minister Jairam Ramesh that differences between them and the chairperson may have arisen as Gupta was a retired IAS officer from Orissa cadre who had also been environment secretary at the Centre.

In a letter jointly despatched by retired forest officer Devendra Pandey, researcher Urmila Pingle and civil rights lawyer V Suresh, the three have virtually suggested a conflict of interest in Gupta’s role. They put their reservations on Gupta’s dissenting views on record a day before submitting their report on Posco separately.

Gupta had served as secretary, environment and forests, when environmental clearance was given to Posco under the Environment Protection Act. Gupta in her report noted the committee was not mandated to review the legality of clearances but only whether government and the South Korean company had followed conditions laid down in the permissions.

The three members differed, saying they were indeed authorised to investigate if the project had been pursued in compliance of green laws, including the manner in which green clearances were granted.

The three noted in the letter to the minister that they were unanimous in their view and the differences between them and the chair were fundamental in nature and could not be resolved despite their best efforts.

In the majority report, they have called the entire process of granting environmental clearances as farcical and illegal and recommended that it be revoked, which would imply scrapping the project as it stands today. Gupta, on the other hand, has recommended the project be allowed to continue and additional conditions be imposed in light of lacunae found by her.

Gupta’s report has tried to, just as Ramesh did on Monday, play down differences with the other three. She has stated, “On some of the issues, there was agreement on what the conclusion should be, but not on the reasons leading to the conclusion.”

While releasing the two reports, Ramesh too said the difference was merely of interpretation of the facts and that the two reports were otherwise aligned. The three members later met the minister to argue that differences did not seem amenable to resolution.

The release of the report by the minister was also marred by an unpleasant moment with one of the three members openly opposing the `gag order’ by the minister on the committee after submission of the report.

Sources said the committee members had earlier raised concerns about the possible conflict of interest in having Gupta as chair when she had been the senior most bureaucrat in the environment ministry at the time Posco was granted a clearance.

Read more: Conflict of interest: Gupta was environment secy when Posco was cleared – The Times of India http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Conflict-of-interest-Gupta-was-environment-secy-when-Posco-was-cleared/articleshow/6770917.cms#ixzz12mGayb1u

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Written by janjagriti

October 19, 2010 at 5:01 am

Posted in News

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