Withdraw green fund rules: Jairam

Withdraw green fund rules: Jairam

Jairam Ramesh

Senior Congress leader and former Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh on Wednesday termed the notification of the Compensatory Afforestation Fund (CAF) rules as a “blatant breach of assurances” given by the Modi government in Parliament and demanded its immediate withdrawal.

In a stinging letter to Environment Minister Harsh Vardhan, Ramesh also threatened to launch breach of privilege proceedings against him for going back on the assurances given by his predecessor late Anil Madhav Dave in the Rajya Sabha on July 28, 2016.

Ramesh recalled that Dave, the then Environment Minister, had assured the Rajya Sabha that the Compensatory Afforestation Fund Act, 2016 would comply with the Forest Rights Act (FRA)and recognize the authority of the Gram Sabhas in managing the compensatory afforestation funds.

The Congress leader said that the CAF Rules notified by the government on August 10, do not comply with the FRA and Panchayat (Extension of Scheduled Areas) Act 1996 and encourage land and forest rights violations.

“I firmly believe that the present CAF Rules should be withdrawn and put on hold,” Ramesh said. “The least I expect is that the solemn assurances given by your distinguished predecessor on the floor of the Rajya Sabha…. are honoured in letter and spirit,” he said in a letter to Vardhan.

Ramesh said he would take up the matter with Rajya Sabha Chairman as well and thought it was a fit case for moving a breach of privilege motion against the Environment Minister.

The notification of the CAF Rules has cleared the way for utilization of the Rs 66,000 crore compensatory afforestation fund that had accumulated over the last 10 years. The fund was collected from user agencies for diversion of forest land for non-forest uses such as building dams, establishing mines, irrigation projects, setting up the industry.

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