Environment minister, Jairam Ramesh, yesterday set off a political storm with a public confession that he has been under ''pressure'' to overlook environmental violations while clearing certain projects.
Ramesh's candid but unexpected admission of pressure to overlook instances of environmental violations came at a conference on sustainable development in the capital.
"I am guilty in some cases to have condoned environmental violations," said Ramesh in the context of power plants and ports being built in the country violating environmental laws. The minister did not, however, make reference to any specific project.
The minister's statement came in response to a question from a delegate who wanted to know the rationale behind the ministry's decision to raze buildings constructed at huge cost for violations of green laws.
In January this year, Ramesh had called for the demolition of the controversial Adarsh Co-operative Housing Society's 31-storey apartment tower in Mumbai's upmarket Colaba region after it was found to have been built in open violation of coastal norms.
"Regularisation of illegality is a peculiar Indian characteristic. First you break the law and then you ask to regularise it," he said. "Many times I am forced to regularise it (violations). But at some stage the signal has to go (that) laws are laws (and that) they cannot be violated," Ramesh said.