New Delhi: The Narendra Modi government on Thursday released ₹47, 436 crores to various states for compulsory afforestation activities.
The funds would be kept in interest-bearing public accounts of states to be used for afforestation, soil moisture conservation, wildlife management, and catchment area treatment activities as listed in the provisions of the Compensatory Afforestation Fund Act, 2016.
“These funds have been collected over last ten years, and should only be used for the listed provisions of the Compensatory Afforestation Funds Rules, for which they are earmarked. However, by no means, state governments should reduce their regular budgetary allocations for forest, after receiving these funds," said Union Minister for Environment, Forests and Climate Change, Prakash Javadekar, adding that "any funds spent on afforestation are an investment for the future."
The Compensatory Afforestation Fund Act 2016 Act, under which funds were released was designed to compensate for the loss of tree cover in the country by creating a permanent institutional mechanism for effective utilization of the accumulated funds by the states to whom the funds actually belong to, for the purpose of afforestation.
The funds can be used for treatment of catchment areas, assisted natural generation, forest management, wildlife protection and management, relocation of villages from protected areas, managing human-wildlife conflicts, training and awareness generation, supply of wood saving devices and allied activities.
About 5% of the allocated funds would be retained by national advisory council--Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority (CAMPA)--to conduct evaluation of schemes implemented in the states, setting up of institutes, societies, centre of excellence in the field of forest and wildlife and standardization of codes and guidelines for the sector.
CAMPA, under the chairmanship of environment minister, would monitor the activities. Each state would be required to submit an annual report based on the utilization of funds.
Increasing the tree cover would help in creating additional carbon sink to meet the nation’s Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC) of 2.5 to 3 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent through additional forest and tree cover by the year 2030 - part of India’s efforts to combat climate change.