The Rajya Sabha will take up the Compensatory Afforestation Fund Bill, 2015, on Thursday. The Bill seeks to unlock around Rs 41,000 crore earmarked for afforestation which had been lying unspent since last four years.
The Lok Sabha in May this year had passed the Compensatory Afforestation Fund Bill which envisages establishment of a National Compensatory Afforestation Fund and also a State Compensatory Afforestation Fund. These authorities at the Centre and the state would ensure expeditious utilisation of accumulated unspent amounts available with the ad hoc Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority (CAMPA).
The Rajya Sabha has been unable to take up the Bill for discussion and passage in the last few days because of the Congress’s insistence on an amendment seeking to grant gram sabhas the sole authority to use resources allocated under compensatory afforestation fund.
“The funds under CAMPA should be used after getting a nod from gram sabhas as also mandated under Forest Rights Act, 2006,” Congress leader Jairam Ramesh said. He said if the forest rights act are not followed, CAMPA fund will be a failure.
According to an environment ministry official, apart from facilitating timely execution of appropriate measures to mitigate impact of diversion of forest land, utilisation of these amounts under CAMPA fund will also result in creation of productive assets and generation of huge employment opportunities in the rural areas, especially the backward tribal areas.