Reiterating the concern that the proposed National Investment Board will have overreaching powers to the extent of even overruling the regulatory mechanism of green clearances, Environment Minister Jayanthi Natarajan and Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh have separately written to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh seeking stringent safeguards in place before setting it up.
The issue is likely to be taken up before the Cabinet on Thursday. It had been listed last week but deferred in the backdrop of these differences.
The NIB, which will be a Cabinet committee type of panel headed by the Prime Minister and will attempt to fasttrack large infrastructure projects of over Rs 1000 crore, is the idea of the department of economic affairs.
The Environment Ministry, earlier led by Ramesh and now by Natarajan, has been critical that the NIB will be provided with extraordinary authority to supercede individual ministries while deciding the fate of expensive infrastructure projects.
Among the key changes that the two have sought in the draft proposal, according to sources, is a provision that will make it mandatory for the NIB to explain in writing, through a proper ruling, the reasons why the regulatory mechanism under the Environment Ministry if and when is overruled, while clearing large infrastructure projects without their approval.
Sources said the two ministers have also sought a proper mechanism in resolving differences for both sides —ministries and other stakeholders opposing the project on the one side and the industry on the other. The Prime Minister’s Office, as of now, is understood to be of the view that difference resolution should be achieved through mutual consultation.