Moily delegates more powers to officials, fast-tracks clearances

MoilyVeerappa Moily. PTI

Union Minister for Environment & Forests Veerappa Moily has begun effecting a series of changes to ensure that his ministry is able to shake off the reputation of stalling projects that it acquired under his predecessors.

One of the first moves Moily has made towards ushering in greater administrative efficiency is to empower his bureaucracy, delegate work and push through stuck appointment processes.

Highly placed sources confirmed that a day after taking over the ministry, Moily issued an internal order saying all files related to environmental clearances will henceforth be routed to the minister directly through the Additional Secretary. The move is aimed as much to unburden the Secretary as to do away with an additional layer of file scrutiny and fast track clearances.

The minister has also given a free hand to the Secretary as far as allocation of works to the rest of the bureaucracy is concerned. While his predecessor largely kept administrative control with her even vetting all ministerial affidavits personally, Moily has permitted his Secretary to decide on work allocations of all directors and deputy secretaries of the ministry. He has also said all court related affidavits will be cleared now on by joint secretaries concerned.

That apart, the minister has also reverted to an earlier work allocation scheme of joint secretaries. Jayanthi Natarajan had recently effected a change in work allocation that is said to have upset many.

The Environment Ministry under Natarajan was viewed as obstructionist and anti-industry and Moily's agenda is clearly to effect a course correction and change this perception.

While Natarajan is said to have had differences with the Cabinet Secretariat over some appointments including that of the Director General Forests, Moily is learnt to have indicated no personal preferences and has agreed with the candidature recommended by the Cabinet Secretary led selection committee. Next on Moily's to-do list are a series of appointments waiting to be made — Chairman Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), reconstitution of the committees of the Animal Welfare Board of India and the Central Zoo Authority besides vacancies at the National Biodiversity Authority.

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