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The Hindu on : 'No compromise on environment'

Online edition of India's National Newspaper on
Saturday, December 18, 1999

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'No compromise on environment'

BERLIN, DEC.17. The Union Finance Minister, Mr. Yashwant Sinha, today declared that India would not compromise on environment norms while granting clearance for mega power projects, asserting that Cogentrix's plans to abandon a $1.3 billion power project would not send `negative signals' to foreign investors.

``There is no question of India compromising on environment norms.... Just as one swallow does not make a summer, one project is not going to dampen the enthusiasm of foreign investors,'' Mr. Sinha told a press conference and an Indian business meeting here.

India was only adhering to international norms on environment protection and the rehabilitation of displaced people, Mr. Sinha said when asked about uncertainties over Cogentrix project in Karnataka and the Maheswar Hydel project in Madhya Pradesh.

The Government, he said, would not like to ``repeat the mistakes'' made in India and elsewhere because of the possibilities of damage to the environment by setting up large power projects.

``While there will be stories of unsuccessful foreign investment, it is not going to impact on the sentiments as such,`` he said.

Mr. Sinha said the Cogentrix and Maheswar projects were involved in court cases.``The matter has to be disposed of in courts. There is no role for States in this,'' he said.

He said at times in dealing with projects in a democracy, people must learn to be patient. Mr. Sinha said legislation for fiscal responsibility would be introduced in the budget session of Parliament next year to provide a `comprehensive solution' to the long-standing problem of fiscal deficit.

The legislation was aimed at bringing down fiscal deficit in the medium level to more sustainable levels, he told newsmen.

Role for private sector

The Group of 20 industralised and major developing countries including India (G-20) have called for greater involvement of the private sector in forestalling and resolving financial crises and strengthening national balance sheets to help cushion unexpected shocks. The group's Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors ended their inaugural meet here last night after identifying four priority areas for immediate attention and aimed at reducing vulnerabilities to international financial crisis. The Finance minister, Mr. Yashwant Sinha, headed the Indian delegation.

Briefing newsmen at the end of the two-day meeting, the Canadian Finance Minister, Mr. Paul Martin, saida comprehensive stock- taking of progress made by all member-nations in reducing vulnerabilities to crises and an examination of differing exchange-rate regimes and their role in cushioning the impact of international financial crises were among the identified priority areas.


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