CENTRE RELEASES FUND FOR AFFORESTATION
What’s in news:
The Union Environment Ministry transferred ₹47,436 crore to 27 States for afforestation.
- These are long-pending dues part of the Compensatory Afforestation Fund (CAF), a ₹54,000 crore tranche that has been collected for nearly a decade as environmental compensation from industry, which has razed forest land for its business plans.
- The fund being transferred would be in addition to State Budget. The State budget for forests shall remain unaffected.
- The Environment Ministry has released the additional fund to give a boost to forestry activities to achieve the objectives of the Nationally-Determined Contributions (NDCs) of increasing forest and tree cover.
- The increase in forest and tree cover will create an additional carbon sink equivalent to 2.5 to 3 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide by the year 2030.
- The fund will be utilized in important activities which will include the Compensatory Afforestation, Catchment Area Treatment, Assisted Natural Regeneration, Forest Fire Prevention, Wildlife Management, 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, etc.”
- The top four states that received the highest CAMPA fund are Odisha, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, and Jharkhand that received funds of Rs 5,933.98 crore, Rs 5,791.70 crore, Rs 5,196.69 crore and Rs 4,158.02 crore respectively. Kerala received the least amount of only Rs 81.59 crore
- The Centre would use geographic tagging technology to keep a tab on whether States were using their allotted funds appropriately.
- The amount to be paid by industry depends on the economic value of the goods and services that the razed forest would have provided.
- These include timber, bamboo, firewood, carbon sequestration, soil conservation, water recharge, and seed dispersal.
- Industrialists pay this money and this is eventually transferred to the States concerned to carry out afforestation.
What is CAMPA?
- The Supreme Court ordered for the establishment of Compensatory Afforestation Fund and Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority (CAMPA) in2001. This was after the top court observed that the funds collected for afforestation were underutilized by the states.
- The court ordered for central pooling of funds under the Compensatory Afforestation Fund. The National Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority (National CAMPA) was set up to manage the fund.
- In 2009, states set up State CAMPAs, which receive 10 percent of the funds from National CAMPA for afforestation and forest conservation activities.
- In the same year, the apex court also permitted the release of Rs 1000 crore every year to States/UTs for compensatory afforestation and other activities.
- However, in 2013, a CAG report noted that the funds continued to be underutilized. The Compensatory Afforestation Fund Bill 2015 was then introduced by the government in Lok Sabha in May 2015 to regulate the collected funds. The bill was then sent for examination under a standing committee and it was passed by Rajya Sabha in July 2016.
- With the approval of the Supreme Court in January 2019, after notification of CAF Rules, an amount worth Rs.54,685 crore from Ad-hoc CAMPA was brought under the control of the Union Government.
- Overall, 27 States and UTs have created accounts for receiving the government funds and those states will be the beneficiary of the additional funds announced by the government. The fund shall be utilized as per the provisions of the CAF Act and CAF Rules.
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