New Delhi: In a move to encourage states to conserve forests, better regulate water resources and spur innovation and research, the 13th Finance Commission has recommended approximately Rs10,000 crore over a five-year period, largely in the form of performance-based incentives.
Currently, anyone who exploits forest land for commercial purposes must pay a compensatory amount to the Centre, whose permission is required for felling trees, which in turn devolves money to the states. Over the next few years, states will be rewarded, and not merely compensated, for the density of their forest cover, said the report.
Green cause: TFC has recommended Rs5,000 crore as forest grant for states. Indranil Bhoumik/Mint
For improving forest cover, the body has recommended Rs5,000 crore as forest grant, and expects the states to put in place systems for afforestation in the next two years.
States aren’t expected to start lobbying for incentives immediately. Over 75% of the kitty, nearly Rs3,250 crore, is expected to be disbursed over two years to help states set up institutional mechanisms to preserve their forest wealth.
In sync with the aim of managing environment and climate change, the commission has recommended an incentive grant of Rs5,000 crore for grid-connected renewable energy to the states, based on the renewable energy capacity addition in the period from 1 April 2010 to 31 March 2014. Of India’s total installed capacity of 156,783.98MW, renewable energy contributes only around 10%, or 15,427.10MW.
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Energy conservation apart, the commission has recommended Rs5,000 crore as a water sector management grant to be disbursed among states, with a caveat that they set up regulatory authorities that will fix and regulate a tariff system and charge for surface and groundwater usage for domestic, agriculture and industrial purposes. This will encourage states to charge consumers commensurate with their usage.
Emphasizing that establishing innovative systems of governance were key to implementing these wide-ranging reforms at the state level, the commission has recommended a Centre for Innovations in Public Systems at Hyderabad, which will actively promote and disseminate practices that have enhanced service delivery, increased efficiency and reduced costs in public systems. It has proposed a Rs1 crore fund for each district to facilitate the initiative.