Enviornment Prelims cum Mains

SC bars States from diverting money from CAMPA funds

The News

  • The Supreme Court has barred State governments from diverting money from their CAMPA fund for activities other than afforestation.

 

Context

  • Recently the apex court had found that the Punjab government had utilized about Rs.1 crore from its CAMPA fund to pay its lawyers and other legal expenses.
  • In response the apex court ordered the Punjab government to reimburse the money back to CAMPA fund.

 

About CAMPA

Background:

  • In the recent draft National Forest Policy 2018, the government aims to bring 33% of the total geographical area under forest or tree cover.
  • According to India’s commitment to the Paris agreement, India has committed to increase carbon sequestration by about 100 million tonnes CO2 equivalent annually.
  • However, given the pace of infrastructure development, a number of forest lands are diverted to infrastructure projects like roads, thermal plants, mining, building townships etc.
  • In order to offset this loss of forest land, the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980 gives a provision from the government to grant permission to divert forest land for non-forest purpose on the condition that the ‘user agency’ will deposit the stipulated amount to undertake compensatory afforestation to mitigate the negative impact of forest land diversion.

 

Issues in implementation

  • While there was a provision under Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980 for compensatory afforestation, there have been number of issues how this fund is collected, managed and utilized.
  • In some cases states and the Centre disagreed over the utilisation of the amount.
  • In many cases states failed to collect the CA funds from the user agencies.
  • Further appropriation of such funds for CA also involved delay.
  • In this background the Supreme Court in 2000 directed the creation of a ‘Compensatory Afforestation Fund’ under the authority of Ministry of Environment and Forest.
  • As a result in 2004 the MoEF constituted Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority (CAMPA) in exercise of powers conferred under Section 3 (3) of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986.
  • However this effort did not yield results as there was no legal mechanism to manage the funds by CAMPA.
  • To solve this issue the Supreme Court constituted Ad-hoc-CAMPA in 2006.
  • Further in 2009 the apex court also established the National Advisory Council for monitoring the activities under CAMPA.

 

Legal backing: CAMPA Act 2016

  • To end the adhocism in managing the compensatory afforestation activities, the parliament enacted the The Compensatory Afforestation Fund Act, 2016.
  • It provides for the establishment of Comensatory Afforestation funds under National and state level.
  • Major part of the these funds shall be used to restock and improve quality of degraded forests, which constitutes more than 40 % of the total forest cover of the country
  • Accordingly CAMPA funds are meant to be spent towards:
    • Undertaking artificial regeneration (plantations)
    • Assisted natural regeneration
    • Protection of forests
    • Forest related infrastructure development
    • Green India Programme
    • Wildlife protection
  • It also provided for a constitution of an authority at national level and at each of the State level (state CAMPAs) for administration of the funds.
  • The National Advisory Council has given a list of guidelines and activities for use of funds for afforestation, management and development of forests.

 

 How has it worked?

  • In its report the CAG of India in 2013 had found that about 17 states had spent nearly Rs 52 crore in contravention of the CAMPA guidelines
  • In 2015, about Rs 36,000 crore collected from companies were spent on activities other than those mentioned in the CAMPA guidelines.
  • Now with more than 70000 crores in the CAMPA funds the apex court order should ensure CAMPA funds are used for the purposes they are established for.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: