New Delhi: Development and environment go together and are "not against" each other, newly appointed Environment Minister Anil Madhav Dave said on Wednesday as he took over from Prakash Javadekar during whose tenure activists had raised apprehensions about dilution of green norms.
Speaking in the presence of Javadekar, who now has the Human Resource Development portfolio, Dave said all projects undertaken by his predecessor will continue although he would take a week's time to understand the functioning of the department.
On how he would maintain a balance between environment and development, he said, "Development and environment go together. They are not against each other. We need to look at the issue in this manner."
With the Environment and Water Resources Ministries at loggerheads over the construction of hydel projects in the upper reaches of Ganga, Dave, who has been actively involved in Narmada conservation said, "Every river should flow".
On the odd-even scheme of Delhi government to curb air pollution, Dave, who took charge of the Ministry on his birthday on Wednesday, said, "Although there is a need to learn from experiments, politics and experiments should be kept separate."
"First, I will try to understand the department and its priorities and challenges. It will take me one week's time. After that we will decide with regard to environment, forest and climate change, in what direction should we move forward.
"Prakash Javadekar has done a great job and most of his projects will continue. Allegations and praise will always be there. In the last two and half years, the government has done a splendid job and I will try to move in that direction," he said.
Asked if he had any special plans for cleaning and rejuvenation of rivers since he has worked on Narmada, Dave said while earlier he was doing the work as a hobby, now he would try to do the same work under the framework of the Constitution.
In a major expansion of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's cabinet on Tuesday, Dave was inducted as a Minister of State and given the independent charge of Environment Ministry.
Javadekar, during his two years in the Environment Ministry, had approved over 2,000 projects involving an investment of Rs 10 lakh crore that were pending for years.
With the Environment Ministry being criticised by green activists, Dave said that praise and criticism "will continue as they have been there for thousands of years".
"One should always (move ahead) with the right intention, right action and in the right direction. This should be kept (in mind) without thinking of criticism."
Asked about the tussle with the Water Resources Ministry and its Minister's letter, Dave said he would only be able to comment once he understands the issue.
On the odd-even scheme, he said, "There is no harm in experimenting. It should be in done correctly in the right direction. We have to learn from experimenting. All experiments are welcome. Experiment and politics should be kept separate," when asked about the odd-even scheme.
On his plans following Congress' threat to launch an agitation after reports that the Environment Ministry was diluting forest rights of tribals, he said such policies are part of a continuous process undertaken by successive
"Whether it is a Congress or UPA government or NDA or BJP government, it is a continuous process. One should not see it in a compartment. If some commitment is done by ex-minister or government, the government of India is bound by it. It is a continuous process and in this process, one should think of going in the right direction," he said.
Dave, who was one of the MPs to cycle to Parliament, said he did not do so to get praise or a photograph in a newspaper.
"I have done it by choice. When I was a nobody, I was using it and in future also I will do it," he said.
Earlier, in an event organised by the Environment Ministry to welcome him and bid farewell to Javadekar, Dave described himself as a "soft and accessible person" and said starting from a guard to a secretary, anybody can contact him.
On the changes in the government, Dave said it is a regular process.
"If someone sees it as promotion or demotion, it is not right. This is no promotion or demotion. If somebody cooks food at home, it is small work and somebody goes to office, it is big work? It is not like that. House is run by all. All work is equally important. Prakash Javadekar is going to a major department and he has big challenges," he said.