Meghalaya has received Rs 163.31 crore under the Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority (CAMPA), which is a major boost towards promoting afforestation and achieving green objectives.
Meghalaya Minister for Border Areas Development, Education and Forests and Environment, Lahkmen Rymbui received the amount from Union Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Prakash Javadekar during the meeting of State Forest Ministers and authorities in New Delhi on Thursday.
In total, Javadekar handed over Rs. 47,436 crore of CAMPA fund to various States in the presence of Union Minister of State Babul Supriyo.
The fund shall be utilised as per the provisions of the Compensatory (Afforestation) Fund (CAF) Act and CAF Rules.
Speaking at the meeting, Union Environment Minister Javadekar said, “The State budget for forests shall remain unaffected, and the fund being transferred would be in addition to the State Budget.”
“It is expected that all States will utilize this fund towards forestry activities to achieve the objectives of the Nationally-Determined Contributions (NDCs) of increasing its forest and tree cover, which will create an additional carbon sink equivalent to 2.5 to 3 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide by 2030,” said Javadekar.
The Environment Minister further emphasized that CAMPA funds cannot be used for payment of salary, travelling allowances, medical expenses, among other expenses.
Javadekar highlighted the efforts of the government towards preserving and improving the forest wealth and ecological security of the country.
He said important activities on which the fund will be utilised will be for the Compensatory Afforestation, Catchment Area Treatment, Wildlife Management, Assisted Natural Regeneration and Forest Fire Prevention and Control Operations and others.
Besides, the other activities include soil and moisture conservation works in the forest, Improvement of Wildlife Habitat, Management of Biological Diversity and Biological Resources, Research in Forestry and Monitoring of CAMPA works.
It may be mentioned that the with initial experience of the States regarding under-utilisation of the money collected towards compensatory afforestation, the Supreme Court of India has ordered for establishment of Compensatory Afforestation Fund and Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority (CAMPA) in 2001.
In 2006, separate bank accounts were opened in which the compensatory levies were deposited and adhoc CAMPA was established for the management of Compensatory afforestation fund.
In 2009, the Supreme Court permitted the release of Rs.1000 crore every year to States/Union Territories (UTs) for compensatory afforestation and other activities.
In 2014, the Supreme Court permitted the release of 10 percent of the total deposit of states in the fund from interest accrued on the deposits.
So far, 27 States/UTs have created accounts for receiving the fund from Union government.