Monday, November 29, 1999

Abdullah distances himself from Athirappilly comment

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New Delhi, June 16 (IANS) Union Minister for New and Renewable Energy Farooq Abdullah Wednesday appeared to distance himself from his commitment that the central government would 'very soon' give environmental clearance to Kerala's controversial Athirappilly hydroelectric power project.'The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy has clarified that when Dr. Farooq Abdullah was posed with a question on the Hydel Project in Kerala today (Wednesday) on the sidelines of a function in New Delhi, he said that the matter was in the knowledge of the ministry and is being looked into,' said a statement issued by the ministry late Wednesday.Speaking to reporters earlier in the day, Abdullah had categorically stated: 'We will clear it very soon.'He also said he had discussed the issue with Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh.Kerala's ruling Left Democratic Front (LDF) government had alleged that Ramesh had undermined the proposed Athirappilly project.Ramesh had cited various reasons like opposition by environmentalists, groups and leaders, including Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's Principal Secretary T.K.A. Nair, to revoke the environmental clearance that was given earlier to the project.'Many people have spoken to me regarding this project and its deleterious consequences. T.K.A. Nair is one of them. I would like environment committee clearance revoked as soon as possible since I'm very familiar with the project site,' Ramesh had written in an official note.Abdullah said he has got a 'very good reaction' from Ramesh about the project and 'we are going to do it very quickly'.'We are going to fast-forward the initiative,' the minister said.Ramesh had said that his ministry could cancel the environment clearance if it did not meet the laws.

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