Union environment minister Jairam Ramesh yesterday made a not-so-veiled attack on bribe-givers in the corporate world, saying that he could ''control the demand for corruption, but someone has to control the supply of corruption too. I cannot stop that."
The minister's cooments came on a day after eminent citizens, including Wipro chief Azim Premji, HDFC chairman Deepak Parekh, and former Reserve Bank of India governor Bimal Jalan, shooting ''An open letter to our leaders'' to raise concern about rising corruption which is "corroding the fabric" of the nation (See: End graft, 14 eminent citizens tell government).
Ramesh was addressing the media after a closed-door interaction with the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) on environmental governance and climate change. He made the remark in context of the number of companies found flouting green laws, and his ministry's ability or otherwise to check the violations.
Clarifying that he was not on a witch-hunt of high profile violators, Ramesh said, "I am not sniffing around for a big guy to catch ... my actions are not suo motu actions. My actions are in response to the representations I receive from different organisations."
The minister held the first formal meeting with CII delegates since taking charge of the ministry in wake of sharp reactions from industry and his cabinet colleagues on his strong action against violators and in implementation of green laws in several high-profile cases like Vedanta's Orissa project, coal mining regulations, and the Adarsh housing scam in Mumbai. The latest to fall under the ministry's guns is the Lavasa hill city project near Pune.
Ramesh's purpose in meeting CII on Tuesday and a slated meeting with FICCI, another business organisation, on 24 January would be to "alleviate fears and concerns of industry that environment is becoming a constraint to industrial growth", he said.