Over Rs 100 crore unused for nearly a decade; Centre has stopped releasing money since 2014-15
PANJIM: In a shocking revelation, the Government of Goa has not spent a single rupee under the Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority (CAMPA) since its inception in 2009-10. Over Rs 100 crore have remained unutilised in the State kitty for nearly a decade now owing to non-availability of area for undertaking such a project.
As a result, the Union Ministry for Environment and Forest (MoEF) has not released any share of funding for the State towards the project in the last four years, since 2014-15.
CAMPA, a body appointed by MoEF, was mandated by a Supreme Court judgment in 2002, to collect compensation money from projects that divert forest land for non-forest use. In Goa, the authority was put in place in 2009.
“There is no land available to undertake compensatory afforestation and hence the funds remained unutilised. 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 for the last couple of years,” a senior forest official told Herald.
But, even before the body was set up, the State forest authorities, since 2002, had been depositing money of Net Present Value (NPV) and compensation for afforestaion with the central government, which are later released to the State through CAMPA.
Goa, which has the largest forest cover, is finding it difficult to identify non-forest land for compensatory afforestation. Besides, the State forests also do not fall under degraded land and hence a minimum amount has been spent on wildlife conservation.
The official said that the utilisation of CAMPA funds has been almost nil in the past 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 a must under the Forest Conservation Act,” official said.