BENGALURU: A recent report presented to the state government by the Karnataka Forest Department and Institute of Social and Economic Change has found that in the last five years, forests in Karnataka have suffered an ecological loss of Rs 2,500 crore, owing to an array of natural and man-made factors.
The forest department had carried out a study to ascertain the economics of ecological losses. The report was sent to Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai for the announcement of a green budget, which he had announced on Forest Martyrs Day -- September 11, 2021. Four of the 22 parameters chalked out by the United Nations were assessed for a duration of five years, thus arriving at an amount of Rs 2,500 crore.
If implemented, Karnataka will be the first state in India to have a green GDP and a green budget. It is also important as Karnataka houses the largest part of the Western Ghats, around 60 per cent, officials from the Revenue Department said.
"We have prepared a draft and submitted it to the CM. A preliminary meeting on this has also been held and the final presentation on the methodology of how the calculation was done will be explained to him. The Rs 2,500 crore is apart from the state budget allocations. It is for the green budget which the state will prepare for the first time in India, though this was announced by the Central Government, but is yet to be implemented," said a forest department official, who did not wish to be named.
The parameters under focus for the report cover soil erosion, landslide, heavy rainfall loss, drought and land diversion.
"People misunderstand that these are only natural causes, but they do not realise that they occur also because of man-made projects. The aim of the exercise is to seek compensation for tangible and non-tangible ecological losses. A quick assessment was done for a period of two months, which is based on a formula prescribed by the UN, Ministry of Statistics and Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change. It has been done on the directions of the Union Finance Minister to ascertain the cost of externality. Karnataka has the potential to lead as an example, because of the huge unaccounted ecological value it holds," the official added.