Rajya Sabha passes Compensatory and Afforestation Fund Bill, 2016
The Bill establishes the National Compensatory Afforestation Fund under the Public Account of India, and a State Compensatory Afforestation Fund under the Public Account of each state.
The Rajya Sabha on 28 July 2016 unanimously passed the Compensatory and Afforestation Fund (CAF) Bill, 2016 that allows States to access nearly 42000 crore rupees and channel into afforestation projects.
The Bill was already passed by Lok Sabha on 3 May 2016.
Provisions of the Bill
• The Bill establishes the National Compensatory Afforestation Fund under the Public Account of India, and a State Compensatory Afforestation Fund under the Public Account of each state.
• These Funds will receive payments for: (a) compensatory afforestation, (b) net present value of forest (NPV), and (c) other project specific payments.
• The National Fund will receive 10 percent of these funds, and the State Funds will receive the remaining 90 percent.
• These Funds will be primarily spent on afforestation to compensate for loss of forest cover, regeneration of forest ecosystem, wildlife protection and infrastructure development.
Key Issues pertaining to the Bill
The Bill establishes the Funds for compensatory afforestation and forest conservation. However, there are several factors which affect compensatory afforestation and forest conservation. These factors are:
• Lack of planning and implementation: The state forest departments lack the planning and implementation capacity to carry out compensatory afforestation and forest conservation.
• Difficulty in procuring land: Procuring land for compensatory afforestation is difficult as land is a limited resource, and is required for multiple purposes, such as agriculture, industry, etc. This is compounded by unclear land titles.
• Decline in quality of forest cover: A High Level Committee on Environment Laws observed that quality of forest cover has declined between 1951 and 2014, with poor quality of compensatory afforestation plantations being one of the reasons behind the decline.
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