Environment minister Jayanti Natarajan has objected strongly to the proposal put forward by finance minister P Chidambaram to the cabinet for a National Investment Board (NIB) that would fast-track clearances for projects worth over Rs1,000 crore.
In a strongly worded letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, she has called the NIB proposal "unconstitutional" and "completely unacceptable".
The blueprint for the NIB, which was discussed at the last cabinet meeting a few weeks ago but has not yet been cleared, has proposed that a three-minister panel should havethe power to overrule other ministries that would normally be in charge of granting clearances.
Natarajan wrote that the NIB proposal would shift decision-making from the respective ministries to the finance ministry, thus altering the rules of how the cabinet functions were being altered without debate within the government.
In her letter that has been widely accessed by the media, she said the urgency shown by the finance ministry to bypass consultations to push through the "sweeping changes" were "disturbing and surprising".
"This concept is unacceptable. The NIB has no constitutional authority to decide on the failure of any minister ... when the minister of a ministry takes a decision, there is absolutely no justification for an NIB to assume his / her authority. Nor will the NIB have the competence to do so.