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No green nod if panchayats oppose: Moily

GREATER NOIDA: Projects will not be givengreen clearance if these are opposed by local panchayats (village councils), petroleum minister M Veerappa Moily, who holds additional charge of the environment and forests ministry, said on Tuesday. 

"I have rejected Niyamgiri (project of Vedanta group) because all the panchayats have rejected the proposal... When the panchayats reject, we cannot go ahead with it. We have made a rule that if the panchayats (reject), we cannot (grant clearance)," Moily said at an interaction with reporters on the sidelines of Petrotech-2014, the oil ministry's annual showcase on India's oil industry. 

Asked whether he was opening a Pandora's box, Moily said, "I cannot help... I cannot help." 

Moily had last week rejected Vedanta's proposal to mine the Niyamgiri hills after 12 panchayats of Dongriya Kondh tribal groups opposed the project in their forests. 

Separately, Moily also said the government would launch 'Green India' schemes to protect environment and forests. 

"The first scheme we are launching is the Green India scheme for the environment, that is, every year we need to account for the forests we need to go on adding," Moily said. 

"We are shortly going to the Cabinet (with the Green India plan). The next scheme we are launching is a plan to nurture the forests in the country," he added. 

According to a report released last month, the country's forest cover has decreased by 367 sq km in 14 states.

The Times of India (15-01-2014)