Diversion of forest areas
- June 14, 2020
- Posted by: admin1
- Category: DPN Topics
In Annual report published by Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, it was found that total 11,467.83 hectares forest lands were diverted in 22 states between January 1 and November 6, 2019
- Forest land is usually recommended for diversion by state governments for the development of various infrastructure projects or mining, and then given a final approval by the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change after having received clearance from the Ministry’s Forest Advisory Committee or the ten Regional Empowered Committees.
- Whenever forest land is diverted for non-forest purposes, it is mandatory under the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980 that an equivalent area of non-forest land has to be taken up for compensatory afforestation.
- In addition to this, funds for raising the forest are also to be imposed on whosoever is undertaking the diversion. The land chosen for afforestation, if viable, must be in close proximity of reserved or protected forest for ease of management by forest department.
- In 2002, the Supreme Court (SC) ordered that a Compensatory Afforestation Fund had to be created in which all the contributions towards compensatory afforestation and net present value of land had to be deposited.
- In April 2004, Ministry of Environment and Forests constituted Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority (CAMPA) to overlook and manage the Compensatory Afforestation Fund (CAF) as directed by the SC. The authority was termed as the ‘custodian’ of the fund.
- Further in 2009, the government ordered that State CAMPAs had to be set up to boost compensatory afforestation at state level and also manage Green India Fund.
- Despite all these efforts, CAG report in 2013 revealed that the CAMPA funds remained unutilised. The report stated that between 2006 and 2012, CAF with ad hoc CAMPA grew from ₹ 1,200 crores to ₹ 23,607 crores.
- Compensatory Afforestation Fund Act, 2016 came into force from 2018. The Act established a National Compensatory Afforestation Fund under the Public Account of India and State Compensatory Afforestation Fund under the Public Account of each state.
- The payments made for compensatory afforestation, net present value and others related to the project will be deposited in the fund.
- The State Funds will receive 90% of the payments while National Fund will receive remaining 10%. These funds will be regulated by State and National CAMPA.
- The Ministry also stressed that the fund had to be used for important needs such as 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 and others.
Green credit scheme
- Forest Advisory Committee (FAC) has approved the Green Credit Scheme which will allow the Forest Department to outsource the responsibility of reforesting to non-government agencies
- It would allow agencies like private companies and village forest communities to identify land and grow plantations.
- After a period of three years, they would be eligible to be considered as compensatory forest land if they met the criteria set by the Forest Department.
- An industry in need of forest land could then pay for these patches of forest land, and this would then be transferred to the Forest Department.
- Previously, in 2015, a ‘Green Credit Scheme’ for degraded forest land with public-private participation had been recommended, but was shelved when it was not approved by the Union environment ministry.