Herald: Govt finds no land for compulsory afforestation

Govt finds no land for compulsory afforestation

07 Jan 2018 06:24am IST
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07 Jan 2018 06:24am IST

Rs 100 cr of unused funds for the purpose remain with govt; State fails to get share of funds since 2014-15


PANJIM: With over Rs 100 crore still pending in the State kitty under the Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority (CAMPA) scheme, Goa has failed to get its share from the Union Ministry for Environment and Forest (MoEF) towards the project since 2014-15. Lack of land to undertake compensatory afforestation for an area of around 2300-2400 hectares has resulted in the non-expenditure by the State for nearly a decade. 

“There is no land available to undertake compensatory afforestation and hence the funds remained utilised. We have over Rs 100 crore still in our exchequer, which are yet to be spent. As such, the Ministry has not released funds to the State since the last couple of years,” a senior forest official confirmed to Herald.

CAMPA, a body appointed by the Union Ministry for Environment and Forest, which was mandated by Supreme Court judgment in 2002, to collect funds as compensation from projects that divert forestland for non-forest use, was formed in Goa in 2009.

However, since 2002 the State Forest Department has been depositing money of Net Present Value (NPV) and compensation for afforestation with the central government, which are later released to the State through CAMPA. 

Identification and improvement of degraded forest land, identification of non-forest land for compensatory afforestation as compensation towards diversion of forest land for non forest purposes like dams, mining and other industrial projects, is being dealt under CAMPA.

Goa received its first share under CAMPA in 2009-10 an amount of Rs 12.11 crore, followed by second installment of Rs 10.24 crore in 2010-11 and Rs 8.55 crore in 2011-12. No funds were released in 2012-13, while in 2013-14 it got again Rs 6.50 crore. 

What is interesting is that, nothing from this was spent during all the years as revealed by the Ministry in its data.

Goa, which has the largest forest cover, is finding it difficulty in identifying non-forest land for compensatory afforestation. Moreover, State forests also do not fall under degraded land and hence a minimum amount has been spent on wildlife conservation. 

Official said that the utilisation of CAMPA funds has been almost nil for the past several years. “There has been conversion of forest land for non-forest purpose in the State. It is 2300-2400 hectares roughly, pending since 2009. But we are not able to get the same amount of land for compensatory afforestation, which is must under Forest Conservation Act,” an official said.   

The official also clarified that in many cases a substantial portion of the land identified for compensatory afforestation already contains vegetation of varying density and such land cannot be used for CAMPA scheme. 

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