Dwivedi assures not to allow Salaries, Vehicle Purchases, Offices Constructions out of Fund
Jammu Tawi, Dec 24
It took nearly sixteen years for the Centre and State Government to pass the Law and finally notify the much needed compensatory mechanism to make good the losses of forests-cover due to diversion for so called development and alternate usage of forest land through a compensatory fund. The state government has approved the new Jammu and Kashmir Compensatory Afforestation Fund Rules, 2018 for the State.
Giving details Commissioner Secretary Forest, Ecology and Environment, Manoj Kumar Dwivedi said the transfer of forest land for non-forestry purposes is governed by Jammu and Kashmir Forest Conservation Act, 1997. “User agencies are required to pay compensation for trees and cost of Compensatory Afforestation in lieu of the forest land diverted for non-forestry purposes. Besides, the value of ecosystem goods and services of forests, termed ‘Net Present Value’ or NPV is charged from user agencies,” he said.
The new rules will further streamline working of the Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority (CAMPA) and institutionalize concurrent monitoring of works executed under the CAMPA funds.
He said Supreme Court in its order in TN Godavarman Thirumulpad v/s Union of India & Others (Writ Petition (Civil) No 202 of 1995) dated: 30.10.2002 directed that a Compensatory Afforestation Fund be created in which all the funds received from user agencies towards compensatory afforestation, NPV and other charges shall be deposited.
Dwivedi said in accordance with the guidelines issued by Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Government of India, State CAMPA was set up in J&K vide SRO-354 dated: 11.11.2009.
He said based on the orders and directions of Supreme Court, Compensatory Afforestation Fund (CAF) Act, 2016 was notified by Government of India on 3.8.2016 and CAF Rules, 2018 were notified on 10.8.2018 and both have come into force from 30.9.2018. “In order to bring the State CAMPA rules in consonance with CAF Act 2016 and CAF Rules 2018, Jammu and Kashmir Compensatory Afforestation Fund (J&K CAF) Rules, 2018, incorporating relevant provisions of both, with some state specific modifications, have been framed,” he said and added that under J&K CAF Rules, 2018, a special State Fund called the “Jammu and Kashmir Compensatory Afforestation Fund” shall be established and a State Authority called the “Jammu and Kashmir Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority” shall be constituted for management of the State Fund and its utilization.
The State Fund, he said, shall be utilized for assisted natural regeneration, artificial regeneration, protection of forests, infrastructure development, wildlife protection and related activities. An independent system of concurrent monitoring and evaluation shall be implemented to ensure effective and proper utilization of funds, he said.
Commissioner Secretary Forests said under new Rules, more than 80% of the outlay in Annual Plan of Operations (APOs) under CAMPA has to be used for forest and wildlife conservation and management activities and less than 20% has to be used for infrastructure and capacity building activities. “Several activities allowed under earlier rules, such as purchase of vehicles and construction of offices for senior officers have been restricted,” he said and added that as a result, more money will be available for afforestation and conservation activities.
He said in the current year (2018-19), 4738 ha degraded forest area is being afforested and for the next year, 5757 ha is proposed to be covered.
Dwivedi said diversion of forest lands for development works is being regulated under Jammu and Kashmir Forest Conservation Act, 1997, and no case of diversion of forest land is approved till it is made sure that no other viable alternative is available. “In order to compensate for loss of environmental goods and services due to such diversions of forest lands, CAMPA has been set up in the State,” he said and added that for each tree felled under Jammu and Kashmir Forest Conservation Act, 1997 for development works, 20 trees have been planted under CAMPA to compensate for the loss.
He said the new rules will give a major boost to greening of the State.
Principal Chief Conservator of Forests and Chairman Executive Committee, CAMPA, Suresh Chugh has stated that new rules will give a major boost to greening of the State. The Forest authorities of the State have also welcomed the new CAMPA rules.