New Delhi: The government has decided to tap a Rs5,000 crore fund managed by the Compensatory Afforestation Management and Planning Authority (Campa) to finance the greening of 6 million hectares of degraded forest land. The plan, which will be announced on 15 August, includes planting of mixed varieties of tree species, to create forest produce that will provide income to villagers. The corpus, made up of money collected from agencies which use forest land for non-forestry purposes, was set up in 2002 following a Supreme Court directive and has not been utilized so far.
A government official familiar with the matter, who did not wish to be identified, said that the money that was meant to be used to create new forests is “just floating around”. “There is another new move to shift the fund,” he added.
At present, the money is held by an ad hoc body created by a Supreme Court appointed central empowered committee. The Supreme Court created Campa after a report of the comptroller and auditor general claimed that states were not utilizing the money for afforestation, but diverting it for other purposes. The states opposed the move, calling it unconstitutional.
The Centre’s new project hopes to use the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development to raise money from the debt market. Campa, it hopes, will also collect around Rs1,000 crore each year from agencies that use forest land. Beyond just afforestation, the government also hopes to earn carbon credits from the move.