Rajya Sabha members today asked the government to ensure “effective implementation” of the compensatory forest afforestation fund, with some seeking steps to protect the rights of tribals and other forest dwellers.
The demand was raised during a debate in the Upper House on the Compensatory Afforestation Fund (CAF) Bill 2015, which will pave the way for unlocking of nearly Rs 41,000 crore earmarked for forest land, lying unspent for about four years.
The CAF Bill will ensure expeditious utilisation of accumulated unspent amounts available with the ad hoc Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority (CAMPA) which is currently about Rs 41,000 crore.
Initiating the debate, Bhupender Yadav (BJP) said India had failed to give rights to the forest dwellers especially tribals since 1947, but given finally in 2006.
“This government wants to ensure that the country’s green cover grows and the rights of those living in the forests are protected. This fund will be spent in a transparent manner,” he added.
Emphasising on the “effective implementation” of the fund, Chaudhary Munawar Saleem (SP) said the amount of around Rs 42,000 crore was not “adequate” and the Centre should contribute more in it.
“Another issues is that the bill says that equal amount will be given to all the states, but I want to say that area of the states and their population should also be considered while allocating the funds,” he added.
P Rathinavel (AIADMK) said the key to increase the green cover was through better conservation practices and law. He too rooted for effective implementation of the fund and stressed that states should be “adequately supported” for forest conservation and afforestation programmes.
Mohd Nadimul Haque (TMC) said the rights of forest dwellers would be with the tribals and the implementation of the bill should be entrusted to the states. He also called for a state-level monitoring group to check that the fund is properly spent.