Govt seeks SC nod to use unspent afforestation funds

Govt seeks SC nod to use unspent afforestation funds

Wants institutional set-up at national, state levels as per 2014 CAMPA draft

Govt seeks SC nod to use unspent afforestation funds

With the purpose of utilisation of huge funds available for reforestation, the government has approached the Supreme Court seeking permission to grant statutory backing to the compensatory afforestation fund.

In an application, the Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF) sought to issue notification for it since the government had already readied its draft CAMPA (Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority) order, 2014.

“The unspent balance of compensatory funds in the year 2001 was about Rs 200 crore, which has increased to more than Rs 30,000 crore. The operationalisation of the regular CAMPA, having a regular institutional set-up, both at the national level and each state/Union Territory level with requisite statutory back-up is, therefore, of utmost urgency,” it said.

“It is expected that the proposed draft CAMPA order, 2014, will facilitate efficient, expeditious and transparent utilisation of the huge accumulated corpus besides fresh accruals which will also be about Rs 6,000 crore,” it added.

The government contended that any delay in operationalisation of the regular CAMPA would hinder proper utilisation of the compensatory levies. However, the wide purpose of the draft CAMPA order may irk conservationists who apprehended diversion of funds meant only for addressing the core issue of afforestation.

The Union Cabinet had already approved the draft CAMPA order, 2014, in March. The MoEF urged the court to allow utilisation of funds available and to make available such funds with the ad-hoc CAMPA, national CAMPA and state CAMPA."

According to the application, the Union Cabinet has accorded approval for creation of one post of chief executive officer, national CAMPA, in the rank of additional director general of forests and one post of joint chief executive officer, national CAMPA, in the rank of the inspector general of forest to be filled up by appointment on deputation basis.

The draft CAMPA order, 2014 stipulated national CAMPA and state CAMPAs as authorities under the Environment Protection Act, 1986.

The main functions of CAMPA included providing policy, technological and scientific support, according administrative and financial approval to annual plan operations of the respective state CAMPAs, monitoring and execution of specific schemes and setting up of institutes, societies, centres of excellence in the field of forest and wildlife, pilot schemes.

The draft CAMPA order had been prepared after incorporating views from different ministries, besides the stand of the Comptroller and Auditor General of India for transferring ad-hoc CAMPA funds to the public account of India.