SC raps Centre for misusing funds created for environment protection

SC raps Centre for misusing funds created for environment protection

The Supreme Court on Tuesday rapped the Centre for diversion of funds from around Rs 1 lakh crore collected to protect the environment.

"We are being befooled by the executive. It is very clear that the amount was used for purposes other than what it was entrusted for. How far do you want the court to go? We trusted the executive but they say they will do whatever they want," a bench of Justices Madan B Lokur and Deepak Gupta said.

The court expressed its strong displeasure after finding funds from the Compensatory Afforestation Funds Management and Planning Authority (CAMPA), which was created under the top court's order, were being diverted. It was pointed out the money was used for constructing roads, bus stops and colleges in Odisha.

Judicial overreach

"What are we supposed to do? You people do not work. It is completely beyond imagination," the bench observed, adding, "when we say something, it is said there is judicial overreach and judicial activism."

Additional Solicitor General A N S Nadkarni, appearing for Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, said the court should specify to the Union government where and how these funds should be used.

The bench noted that around Rs 90,000 to Rs one lakh crore money was lying with the Centre and the states under various heads, consequent to the court's order. The court directed the Ministry to make a compilation of all the heads and the amounts lying under them as on March 31 this year.

The court posted the matter for hearing on May 9. It also asked the Ministry to indicate how the amount was intended to be utilised and areas where it should not be utilised.

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