With the ambitious Green India Mission,which aims to add 5 million hectares to Indias forest cover by 2020,crippled for lack of funds,the environment and forests ministry wants to transfer the Compensatory Afforestation Fund from the Supreme Court to the governments accounts for easier access.
The ministry,sources told The Sunday Express,has prepared a proposal for the cabinet to move Rs 25,000 crore afforestation funds to Public Accounts of India so money can be withdrawn after parliamentary authorization which is not required for certain withdrawals – and has managed to get the finance ministry on board.
The move comes not long after the Planning Commission made clear that it can provide no more than Rs 2,000 crore for Green Indian Mission in the 12th plan as against the Rs 23,000 crore sought and advised the ministry to look for other resources. The mission was originally envisaged to get Rs 46,000 crore over the 12th and 13th plan period.
In the face of such a fund crunch,the mission simply cant go ahead. Withdrawing from the CAMPA funds is probably the only option,but that is also a time-consuming process as it involves going to the Supreme Court. So,the MoEF has proposed that CAMPA managed funds be transferred to Public Accounts of India,from where withdrawal can be authorised by the Parliament. The aim is to decentralize CAMPA funds and allow the states,which have actually contributed to it with principal amount,to use these for enhancing the countrys green cover, a senior official in the ministry said.
The fund,managed by the Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Afforestation Authority,is a corpus collected from user agencies towards compensatory afforestation,penal compensatory afforestation,net present value of forest land diverted. The SC guidelines of 2009 state that MoEF can give up to Rs 1,000 crore from the fund to states,but withdrawing a greater amount will require its permission.
The Green India Mission,launched by the prime minister in 2011,is one of the eight missions under the National Action Plan on Climate Change that aims to increase forest cover by 5 million hectares and improve quality of forest cover over another 5 million hectares by 2020 so that Indias forests are able to capture 50 to 60 million tonnes of carbon dioxide a year,about six per cent of total emissions.