BHUBANESWAR: With the Centre notifying rules under Compensatory Afforestation Fund (CAF) Act, 2016 and paving the way for smooth transfer of funds, the State will get back around Rs 3,666 crore so far locked with ad hoc Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority (CAMPA).
With a cumulative deposit of Rs 6,301.12 crore in CAMPA fund since 2016-17, the State Government has so far received Rs 2,644.15 crore from the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change during the last nine years.
The State received Rs 539 crore from the Centre for 2017-18 on August 23.
“The release of fund was restricted to only 10 per cent of principal amount from interest accrued over it. Now, the fund will be managed as per the CAF Act and Rules, unlocking the use of funds collected for activities permitted under CAF Act,” said Minister for Forest and Environment Bijayshree Routray.
The CAF Act has been enacted to manage the funds collected for compensatory afforestation and net present value of forest land diverted for non-forestry use under Forest Conservation Act 1980, which had till now been managed by ad hoc CAMPA. The CAF Rules 2018 notified on August 10, 2018 will come into effect from September 30, he added.
The funds to be released by the Centre will be kept in State Government account and the activities to be taken up under the new rules will be managed by a State authority with a strong monitoring mechanism.
The rules specify that 80 per cent of compensatory afforestation amount will be utilised by states for plantations, assisted natural regeneration of forests, pest and disease control in forest, forest fire prevention, soil and moisture conservation works and improvement of wildlife habitat, among other things from the list of 13 permissible activities. The remaining 20 per cent will be used for 11 listed works to strengthen infrastructure works for protection of forest and wildlife.
The expenditure of CAMPA fund will be done as per annual plan of operation (APO), prepared in consultation with Gram Sabha to ensure that the rights of tribal population are protected. Though the CAF Act was enacted in 2016 for utilisation of the fund deposited by the states, the law could not be implemented in the absence of enabling rules.
The State-level steering committee on CAMPA headed by Chief Secretary AP Padhi had approved Rs 566 crore annual action plan for 2017-18 in February this year.