Mixed reaction by eco-brigade to Jayanthi replacing Jairam
Vibha Sharma/Tribune News Service
New Delhi, July 12
Environmentalists have offered mixed reactions to the appointment of Congress spokesperson Jayanthi Natrajan as the Environment Minister, replacing high-profile Jairam Ramesh, who, with some very decisive and controversial decisions during his tenure, managed to bring the previously low-key Green Ministry on front pages of newspapers. Since Tamil Nadu polls are over, Jayanthi’s appointment has raised eyebrows in political circles. Environmentalists feel that the Congress spokesperson, with her consultative way of working, clean image and a good rapport in the inner circles, will handle the ministry well. However, some also feel that since a minister of state does get any representation in the all-powerful Cabinet, her appointment proves that the Prime Minister does not accord the priority that environment issues deserve.
Toxics Watch Alliance activist Gopal Krishna says the fact that Jayanthi has been appointed a junior minister like her predecessor underlines that Prime Minister does not accord the priority the environmental issues deserve. “Once again the minister has been kept structurally weak so that whenever there is conflict between blind economic growth and ecology, the former is given precedence at the cost of the latter. The CCEA -Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (from which the Environment Ministry draws its mandate) and the Prime Minister are not yet alive to the collapsing ecosystem,” he says, adding that the “regressive influence of the CCEA will not provide her adequate space to act as it did as in the case of Jairam Ramesh”.
Centre for Science Sunita Narain however differs, saying that Jayanthi’s appointment means that the government continues to take environment seriously.
“Jayanti Natrajan has good reputation with high integrity and is an articulate person. We believe that the government continues to take Environment seriously and do not expect any roll-back in the environmental policies. Yes, she has a tough job ahead as Jairam has raised a lot of hopes but we have full faith in her,” she says.
Sunita adds that elevating Jairam to the Cabinet rank with an important portfolio like rural development means that the government recognises good work, saying “MNREGA is the biggest climate adaptation programme and we expect the programme will be brought to complete justice under Ramesh”. Manoj Misra of Yamuna Jiye Abhiyaan considers “any change is for the better”.
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