State to get Rs 300 cr for forestry

Karnataka will receive close to Rs 300 crore from the Centre in the next five years for regenerating a portion of the forest cover including restoration of damaged wildlife habitats, which was lost in developmental activities.

The first installment of Rs 60 crore is expected to be released within the next month, Union environment minister Jairam Ramesh said here Wednesday.

The money will be coming from the Rs 11,000 crore Compensatory Afforestation and Management and Planning Authority (CAMPA) fund that was locked in the banks for the last seven years a the basis of Supreme Court directive.

Last Friday the court unlocked the CAMPA fund allowing the government to utilise the first installment of Rs 5,000 crores for the next five years for the entire country. The implementation will be monitored by the apex court’s Central Empowered Committee.
The resources would be utilised for regenerating six million hectares of degraded forest in the next six years including tiger reserves, sanctuaries and protected forests. Created in 2002 on the direction of the apex court, the fund steadily grew up in the last seven years as everybody undertaking developmental projects in forest land was to deposit the compensatory amount in the fund for forestry regeneration.

Absence of an institutional mechanism to use the CAMPA fund coupled with a turf war between the CEC and the ministries led to locking up of the fund. Currently there is Rs 9,932.12 crores as the principal amount under CAMPA which earned Rs 1,328.24 crore interest. Also another Rs 600 crore will be received as accrued interest as and when fixed deposits mature.

Karnataka share
In an interim arrangement to get the CAMPA going, the Supreme Court permitted release of 10 per cent of the accumulated principal amount per year for the next five years. For Karnataka, this means receiving Rs 60 crore every year till 2014.

However, UPA-II appears to have developed cold feet on its ambitious mega forestry programme “Green India” conceived by the Prime Minister’s Office in UPA-I, assuming availability of CAMPA fund.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was to launch the programme twice during his last  tenure only to be cancelled. Both times, the apex court’s nod was not there.

“There will be no Green India now. The money will be utilised for greening India. A detailed guideline on how to use the CAMPA money and what administrative structure is required are being sent to the chief ministers,” Ramesh said.

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