The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Jaya plea

Chennai, Nov. 4: Chief minister Jayalalithaa has written to her counterparts in states and Union Territories, calling upon them to oppose the NDA government’s stipulation of a central environment impact assessment of all mega construction projects with an investment of over Rs 50 crore, reports our correspondent.

The notification on October 28 by the Union environment ministry, under DMK minister T.R. Baalu, came two days before Jayalalithaa performed the bhoomi puja of the new secretariat complex at Kutturpuram here. It may stall speedy execution of the Rs 400-crore project, including a new Assembly, in two years.

Jayalalithaa yesterday accused Baalu with “attempts to set at naught the programmes and plans of the Tamil Nadu government under my leadership”.

in the letter.

Claiming that the notification undermined the states’ powers, namely in town planning and local self-governance, Jayalalithaa urged her counterparts to “collectively resist this blatant encroachment on the powers of the states and persuade the Government of India to rescind this retrograde step”.

The notification assumed for the Centre the sole authority to approve all such construction projects “with no role for the state governments envisaged in the scheme”. This would lead “to the expropriation of all state government authority in town planning matters”, she asserted.

“We (the chief ministers) should all join in the effort to persuade the Government of India to treat state governments as equal partners in development and trust them to undertake such environmental assessments on their own and regulate such developments in their own states,” Jayalalithaa wrote.

Though the need for environment impact assessment was unquestionable, the ADMK leader said the move by the Centre was a “clear infringement of the sovereign authority of the state, the federal scheme of distribution of legislative powers between Centre and states that no self-respecting state government can tolerate”.

The NDA government’s notification made a “mockery of democratically elected state legislatures and reduced state governments to a position of thraldom and vassalship that the framers of the Constitution would never have envisaged”, she stressed. The order by the DMK minister was born out of “personal bias and animosity” to the ADMK in Tamil Nadu, Jayalalithaa charged.

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