Union Cabinet approved the Compensatory Afforestation Fund Bill, 2015
The bill is aimed at providing for institutional mechanism, both at the Centre and in each State and Union Territory, to ensure expeditious utilization of amounts realised in lieu of forest land diverted for non-forest purpose.
The Union Cabinet on 29 April 2015 gave its nod for introduction of the Compensatory Afforestation Fund (CAF) Bill, 2015 in the Parliament.
The objective of the legislation is to provide for institutional mechanism, both at the Centre and in each State and Union Territory, to ensure expeditious utilization of amounts realised in lieu of forest land diverted for non-forest purpose.
Key Provisions of the bill
• Establishment of the National Compensatory Afforestation Fund (CAF) and the State CAFs to credit amounts collected by Union Territory Administrations and State Governments to compensate loss of forest land diverted for non-forest purpose.
• Constitution of National Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority (CAMPA) to manage and utilise amounts credited to the National CAF.
• Constitution of State CAMPA in each State and Union Territory to manage and utilise the amounts credited to the State CAFs.
• Establishment of a Monitoring Group to assist the National CAMPA in monitoring and evaluation of activities undertaken from amounts released from the National CAF and State CAFs.
Importance of the bill
• The proposed legislation would bring the CAF within broader focus of both Parliament and State Legislatures and in greater public view, by transferring them to non-lapsable interest bearing funds, to be created under public accounts of the Union of India and each State.
• It will also ensure expeditious utilization of accumulated unspent amounts available with the ad hoc Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority (CAMPA), which presently is of the order of 38000 crore rupees.
• Further, it would also ensure fresh accrual of compensatory levies and interest on accumulated unspent balance, which will be of the order of approximately 6000 crore rupees per annum, in an efficient and transparent manner.
• Utilization of these amounts will facilitate timely execution of appropriate measures to mitigate impact of diversion of forest land, for which these amounts have been realised.
• Apart from mitigating the impact of diversion of forest land, utilisation of these amounts will also result in creation of productive assets and generation of huge employment opportunities in rural areas, especially in backward tribal areas.
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