In the minimum constraint removal problem, we are given a set of geometric objects as obstacles in the plane, and we want to find the minimum number of obstacles that must be removed to reach a target point t from the source point s by an obstacle-free path. The problem is known to be intractable, and (perhaps surprisingly) no sub-linear approximations are known even for simple obstacles such as rectangles and disks. The main result of our paper is a new approximation technique that gives O(sqrt{n})-approximation for rectangles, disks as well as rectilinear polygons. The technique also gives O(sqrt{n})-approximation for the minimum color path problem in graphs. We also present some inapproximability results for the geometric constraint removal problem.