Union Environment and Forest Minister Prakash Javadekar said the government has released Rs 47,436 crores to as many as 27 States in a bid to encourage afforestation.
The government has given a major push to increase the dwindling green cover of the country. Union Environment and Forest minister Prakash Javadekar has released Rs 47,436 crores from the Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority (CAMPA) funds to as many as 27 States.
Javadekar disbursed the amounts to the respective states in the presence of Babul Supriyo, the minister of state in the ministry. The CAMPA funds of more than Rs 54,000 crores was created by the Supreme Court by way of compensatory afforestation funds and NPV (net present value) of forests diverted for non-forest purposes such as industry or commercial purposes, and the money has been lying for about a decade with the ad hoc CAMPA committee.
In January, the top court had ordered the transfer of Rs 54,685 crores to a new authority and use it to create forests which have been lost to industrialisation and urban development. About 90 percent of this amount was to go to states and only 10 percent were to be retained by the state for administrative purposes.
To this end, Javadekar made clear that the Rs 47,436 Crores will be in addition to their state budget. “The state budget for forests shall remain unaffected and the fund being transferred would be in addition to state budget and it is expected that all states will utilise this fund towards forestry activities to achieve the objectives of the Nationally-Determined Contributions (NDCs) of increasing its forest & tree cover, which will create an additional carbon sink equivalent to 2.5 to 3 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide by the year 2030”. The minister also added that the CAMPA funds cannot be used for payment of salary, traveling allowances or medical expenses.
The minister also said that fund utilisation will be for Compensatory Afforestation, Catchment Area Treatment, Wildlife Management, Assisted Natural Regeneration, Forest Fire Prevention and Control Operations, Soil and Moisture Conservation Works in the forest, Improvement of Wildlife Habitat, Management of Biological Diversity and Biological Resources, Research in Forestry and Monitoring of CAMPA works. The Minister said that the government has has the technology to track whether these CAMPA funds are being utilised properly.
Among the states, Odisha received the highest amount of Rs 5,933.98 crore, followed by Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand and Maharashtra. Telangana received Rs 3000 crores while Kerala received the least amount of only Rs 81.59 crore.
India’s forest and tree cover stand at 24.39% % as disclosed in the India State of Forest Report (ISFR) 2017, while the government informed the parliament that only 24.49% is under forest and tree cover earlier this month, against the 33% minimum target.
In two years country has shown increase of a mere 0.21% forest, adding 6,778 sq km in area, with Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Odisha and Telangana increasing their green footprint while Haryana, Punjab and Rajasthan are at the other end of the spectrum. The green cover according to government report shows a marginal increase of 1% based on satellite monitoring that remains a hotly debated subject.