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Projects not put on hold: Natarajan

New Delhi, Dec. 22 (PTI): Jayanthi Natarajan today insisted that no projects were put on hold amid speculation that she had been asked to resign as environment minister on complaints that she had “blocked” projects.

Natarajan, who quit yesterday, said she had stepped down on her own to work for the party before the Lok Sabha election. She had also requested the Prime Minister to accept her resignation, she said.

Her resignation had triggered speculation whether it was related to party work or because of reported complaints from industry that she was holding up environmental clearances to projects. The view gained ground when Rahul Gandhi shared industry’s concerns at a Ficci meet.

Referring to the problem of environmental clearances delaying projects, Rahul said: “This is what we face.... In India, there are lot of arbitrary powers. The environment minister or the chief minister can take any decision he wants.”

Natarajan today dismissed reports that she was removed because she held up clearances to industrial projects. “No projects have been put on hold. No projects at all.... I quit the government 100 per cent for party work. No other reasons. The Prime Minister has appreciated my work,” the Rajya Sabha MP said.

“I requested the Prime Minister to relieve me in order to let me devote my energy for party work,” she said.

Defending the decisions taken during her tenure, she admitted that she was apprehensive about dam and hydro-electric power projects in the wake of the Uttarakhand tragedy.

Natarajan said there were “legitimate environmental concerns” and such projects need careful appraisal. “Only 8 per cent projects come to the environment ministry. About 92 per cent of the projects are cleared by states. Nothing comes to me. There are no pending projects,” she said.