In a move that is set to face stiff resistance from infrastructure ministries and the industry,the ministry of environment and forests is mulling a 35 per cent to 400 per cent increase in compensation for forest land acquired for various projects.
The ministry plans to revise the rates at which the Net Present Value of such land is calculated. The revision is based on a report by the Indian Institute of Forest Management,Bhopal.
The revision,the IIFM report estimates,would increase the NPV of land in Very Dense Forest areas by 130 per cent to 433 per cent,in Moderately Dense Forest areas by 113 per cent to 386 per cent,and in Open Forest canopies by 35 per cent to 269 per cent.
NPV is the amount user agencies have to deposit,as per a 2002 Supreme Court order,for forest land that has been given to them for non-forest usage.
NPV is the intrinsic cost of the land and the tangible and intangible benefits of the forest area. It is charged at Rs.5.8 lakh to Rs.9.2 lakh per hectare. These rates came into effect around 2008.
The rationale for NPV collection was that it would balance the uncompensated benefits of lost a forest ecosystem till the compensatory afforestation area starts providing comparable benefits.
The proposed NPV aims to calculate a more comprehensive economic value of forest land by factoring its greater ecosystem benefits such as bioprospecting,carbon sequestration,carbon storage,soil conservation,water recharge,pollination and seed dispersal,and water purification,apart from,of course,timber,bamboo,fodder and firewood.
The IIFM report,commissioned by the government in 2012 in keeping with the SC directive to revise NPR every three years,also suggests a one time possession value on NPV in urban areas and additional premium on NPV in national parks,sanctuaries,eco-sensitive zones,hill talukas and forested wetlands.
For core areas of parks and sanctuaries,the report suggests,the NPV should be 10 times and 5 times the normal rate respectively.
The ministry has sought opinion of all stakeholders on the IIFM report and the proposed NPV revision.