Government has Initiated Several Measures to Increase Forest and Tree Cover: Javadekar
The Government proposes to implement the tree plantation programme extensively in the country. To increase forest and tree cover in the country, the Central Government has initiated several measures. Notable among them are launching of National Mission for a Green India and taking appropriate measures to put in place a proper institutional mechanism for expeditious utilization of amounts realised in lieu of forest land diverted for non-forest purpose.
The National Mission for a Green India aims at following:
Enhancing quality of forest cover and improving ecosystem services from 4.9 million hectares (mha) of predominantly forest lands, including 1.5 mha of moderately dense forest cover, 3 mha of open forest cover, 0.4 mha of degraded grass lands.
Eco-restoration/afforestation to increase forest cover and eco system services from 1.8 m ha forest/non forest lands, including scrub lands, shifting cultivation areas, abandoned mining areas, ravine lands, mangroves and sea-buckthorn areas. Enhancing tree cover in 0.2 mha Urban and Peri-Urban areas (including institutional lands) Increasing forest cover and eco-system services from Agro-forestry and Social Forestry on 3 mha of non-forest lands
Restoration of 0.1 mha of wetlands and the eco system services thereof. The Central Government has approved National Mission for a Green India in February 2014 as a Centrally Sponsored Scheme for a total cost of Rs 13,000 Crore, having a plan outlay of Rs 2,000 crore for the 12th Five Year Plan (FYP) with a spillover of 1 year in the 13th FYP along with Rs 400 Crores from 13th Finance Commission Grants towards State’s Share. The share of Centre : State being in the ratio 75:25 respectively for all States except North-Eastern States and Jammu & Kashmir for which it will be in the ratio of 90:10. The approval also spells out convergence with MGNREGA for Rs.4000 crore, CAMPA for Rs. 6000 crore and National Afforestation Programme for Rs.600 crore. Budget allocation for the Mission in the current financial year is Rs.64.00 crore. To create appropriate institutional mechanism required for expeditious utilization in transparent and efficient manner of the unspent balance of monies collected by the State Governments and Union territory Administrations in lieu of forest land diverted for non-forest purpose which has been placed under the ad hoc Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority (CAMPA) and monies to be realised by the State Governments and Union territory Administrations in lieu of forest land to be diverted in future, the Central Government has introduced the Compensatory Afforestation Fund Bill, 2015 in Parliament. The unspent balance presently available with the ad-hoc CAMPA, a major part of which will be utilised for tree plantations, is of the order of Rs. 38,000 crorers. Similarly, amounts to be realised by the State Governments and Union territory Administrations in lieu of forest land likely to be diverted for non-forest purpose in future along with annual interest to be accrued on unspent balance, a major part of which will also be utilised for tree plantations, will be of the order of about Rs. 6,000 crorers per annum.
The Central Government is also providing assistance to States Governments and Union territory Administrations under a Centrally Sponsored Scheme â€œNational Afforestation Programme (NAP)â€ for regeneration of degraded forests and adjoining areas through peopleâ€™s participation. The scheme is being implemented through a decentralized mechanism of State Forest Development Agency (SFDA) at State level, Forest Development Agency (FDA) at Forest Division level and Joint Forest Management Committees (JFMCs) at village level. The Budget allocation for the current financial year under NAP is Rs. 100 crore.
Section-2 of the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980 inter-alia provides that notwithstanding anything contained in any other law for the time being in force in a State, no State Government or other authority shall make, except with the prior approval of the Central Government, any order directing that any forest land or any portion thereof may be used for any non-forest purpose. Use of forest land for industrial activities or any other non-forest purpose therefore; requires prior approval of Central Government under Section- 2 of the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980.
In some of the proposals seeking approval of Central Government under the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980 for use of forest land for industrial activities or other non-forest purpose, received by the Central Government during the last three years and the current year, the concerned State Governments and Union territory Administrations have reported that whole or a part of the forest land indicated in the proposals has been utilised by the user agency without the requisite approvals. In some cases non-compliance of conditions stipulated in approval accorded under the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980 for use of forest land for non-forest purpose has also been reported/detected. In some cases grant/renewal or transfer of leases involving forest land without obtaining requisite prior approval of Central Government under the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980 have also been reported/detected.
Central Government while according in-principle approval under the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980 to such proposals, based on facts of each case, stipulated appropriate penal measures. These penal measures include â€“ realisation from the user agency penal Net Present Value (NPV) and funds for creation of penal compensatory afforestation, initiation of proceedings in accordance with the provisions of the section 3 A and 3 B of the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980 and/or relevant sections of the Indian Forest Act, 1927 and/or the relevant sections of the Local Forest Acts. Final approval to such proposals is accorded only after such penal measures are complied with. State-wise details of incidents of violations reported during the last three years and the current year are being collected and will be laid on Table of the House.
This information was given by the Minister of State (Independent Charge), Shri Prakash Javadekar, in Lok Sabha today.