Prashant Bhusan bats for green Lokpal
New Delhi, Friday 20th May 2011
Lawyer-activist Prashant Bhusan has added an eco-friendly dimension to the in-the-works Lokpal bill. He is in favour of a green Lokpal. Perhaps, the demand could be attributed to a recent statement by environment minister Jairam Ramesh. The minister, known for disarming candour, said he was often forced to grant green clearances under pressure. Ramesh's revocation of stop work order for the Maheshwar project in Madhya Pradesh is a case in point, where he had to act under some kind of duress.

Bhushan claimed that there are several conflicts of interest while granting environmental nod. The eminent lawyer, a civil society member of the Lokpal joint drafting panel, demanded that a statutory authority should be vested with the power to give these clearances. He sought transparency, underscoring government's eagerness to enter into public-private partnership (PPP) projects that are often perceived to be a fountainhead of corruption.

"The way environment clearances being granted is flawed. It is like someone from the coal ministry is coming over to the environment ministry to grant clearance for a coal project. There is inherent and serious conflicts of interest especially when it is obvious that the prime minister's office is not letting other ministries function independently. The only way out is to have a body like Lokpal for green clearances," Bhusan said.