MoEF Move to Hike Compensation Package Opposed
By Express News Service | Published: 31st December 2013 07:39 AM |
The Union Power and Coal Ministries have opposed a move by the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) to increase the compensation given for forest land diverted for construction and mining by over four times and want it to be rolled back to the present structure.
The four-fold increase in the compensation package paid to the Forest Department was recommended during Jayanthi Natarajan’s tenure at the MoEF. Both the Power and Coal ministries have demanded the MoEF to reconsider the proposed increase in the net present value (NPV) of the forest land transferred for non-forest purpose.
The NPV is the amount to be deposited by a user agency in the Compensatory Afforestation Fund for using forest land for construction and mining. “We have received representations from the Power and Coal Ministries opposing the proposed NPV increase and they want it to be reduced,” a senior MoEF official said. The revised NPV was based on a study by the Indian Institute of Forest Management, Bhopal. The revised NPV rate calls for an increase ranging from 37 per cent to 433 per cent depending upon the density and type of forest cover across the country.
“The MoEF will take a final call to implement the same or change it after consultations with all stakeholders, including civil society and environmentalists,” the official said.
Based on the report of a Central Empowered Committee in 2008, the SC had fixed the rate of NPV between Rs. 4.38 lakh per hectare to Rs.10.43 lakh per hectare. The apex court had asked the MoEF to review the NPV after every three years. The revised rate falls between Rs. 10.47 lakh per hectare to Rs. 55.55 lakh per hectare and this has irked some infrastructure ministries and some private players too.
The highest increase of 400 per cent is for the forests in the Western Ghats, Andaman and Nicobar Islands and the delta area of the Ganga and the Brahmaputra. Presently, Environment Minister M Verrappa Moily has assured all the six states to take their views before taking a final call on the ban on any commercial activity in the pristine forest area of the Western Ghats.
The iron and coal rich forest land in MP, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, and Tamil Nadu reported an increase of over 300 per cent.
Loss of Ecosystem
The rationale behind the increase was that when forest lands are diverted, a whole set of ecosystem goods and services from such forest lands are lost which are not immediately accounted for.