Nearly 350 environment ministry files held back by ex-minister Jayanti Natarajan

New Delhi, Jan.13: A report published by an Indian daily has claimed that nearly 350 enviornment ministry files were held back by former minister Jayanthi Natarajan and her office.

According to an Indian Express report, as many as 180 of these files were recalled and retrieved from Natarajan’s residence on December 22, 23 and 24 unsigned. About 119 files were signed, but were held back by the former minister for some reason and another 50 signed files were retained by her staff.

Twenty-eight of these files were sent to Natarajan in 2012, while two to three date back to 2011, the daily reports.

On January 2, 2014, an office memorandum titled ‘Status of files submitted to the Office of the then MOS (IC) E and F Smt Jayanthi Natarajan’ was issued to all divisional heads in the Ministry of Environment and Forests, sharing the lists of the files sent back.

This memorandum – accessed by the newspaper – asked all divisions, sections and units to go through these lists and to “indicate whether apart from the listed files, any other file is still pending with the Office of the then MoS (IC)”.

The order further asked all officials to treat this matter “urgently” and to take up the matter with the office of her successor Veerappa Moily.

The paper quotes ministry sources, as saying that some files seem to have not found mention on the lists and the same is being updated based on feedback from various divisions of the ministry.

Two lists detailing the files with Natarajan and her office were shared with Moily. The list flagged ‘A’ contained details of the 119 signed files, while ‘B’ had details of the 180 unsigned files. The lists show that as many as 45 cases pending with Natarajan were of impact assessment, 47 related to forest clearances, and seven to wildlife issues. Still other files related to matters of the Indian Forest Service, Coastal Regulatory Zone clearances, National Tiger Conservation Authority etc., the Indian Express reports

Of the 50 files with the former minister’s staff, 39 were related to impact assessment. Environment clearance or forest clearance recommended by either the Environment Appraisal Committee or Forest Advisory Committee has to get the minister’s approval to come into effect. (ANI)