Environment clearance of national security and defence projects will be taken up on a priority basis and given sanction, the government said on Monday while announcing that the Navy's ambitious Project Seabird in Karwar has been approved.
Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar also said that on the lines of recently announced online process of submission of applications for environmental clearance, the ministry will initiate a similar process online for "forest clearance" from August 1.
"There is Project Seabird in Karwar. For defence, it is a very significant project....Mumbai is a target as well....An alternative is required and that is why it is a very ambitious and a project of very strategic importance. That too was pending. We have sanctioned it," he told reporters at Indian Women's Press Corps in New Delhi.
Project Seabird (Karwar Naval Base) will be one of the larger naval bases of India and will be completed in two phases. It will house various warships including India's largest warship and aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya. Noting that environment was not a "one-way traffic", the minister said that he has decided to give priority to pending defence projects as he thought that if country was secure, then environment will be secure and people will be safe.
"That is why I gave priority to them and started seeing files and many of them I have approved as well," he said. Giving examples of other such pending projects which his ministry is taking up on a priority basis, the minister said that if one goes beyond Andamans, there is a Coco Island which is under Myanmar's occupation but most of the infrastructure there is of China.
"Just in front of that island, there is our Narcondum Island. One radar station has to be established on that island in which 8-10 employees will be stationed. There is no other thing which will create disturbance in the natural environment there....
"....And if China is sitting in front and is doing something and we can't even monitor, the country cannot run like that. So these kinds of project which are of importance to country's security, we have started clearing on a priority basis," Javadekar said.
He said that many projects like establishment of posts for coast guard too had been pending for years and the ministry has started taking up such projects as well as giving importance to keep the long coastline of the country secure especially after the Mumbai attacks.