[ecis2016.org] The recently-notified Compensatory Afforestation Fund Rules, will pave the way for the transfer of over Rs 50,000 crores to states and boost efforts towards the restoration and enhancement of forest wealth, environment minister Harsh Vardhan has said
Noting that the Compensatory Afforestation Fund (CAF) Act will come into force from September 30, 2018, union environment minister Harsh Vardhan, said the release of fund to states would help in creating the additional carbon sink to meet the nation’s climate action goal of 2.5 to 3 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent, through additional forest and tree cover by 2030. “The CAF Rules were finally published on August 10, 2018, paving the way for the smooth transfer of funds worth about Rs 52,000 crores to the states,” he said in a statement.
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“The fund will be kept in the interest-bearing public account of the centre and states, will be safe and will be used only for compensatory afforestation, soil moisture conservation, wildlife management and catchment area treatment,” he said in a statement. The minister also said that these activities will be managed by statutory bodies at the national and state levels. Harsh Vardhan noted that the release of funds to states will boost the efforts of the government, towards the restoration and enhancement of forest wealth, enhance bio-richness and water availability and secure ecological security of the country. He added this effort would help in creating the additional carbon sink to meet the nation’s Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC) of 2.5 to 3 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent, through additional forest and tree cover by 2030.
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The CAF Rules 2018 were notified on August 10, 2018. Vardhan said that the CAF Bill was cleared by Lok Sabha in 2008 but it could not be passed in the Rajya Sabha. Vardhan said that 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 the Forest Conservation Act 1980, which had, till now, been managed by the ad-hoc Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority (CAMPA).
“The release of the fund was restricted to only 10 per cent of the 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 the purpose of forest ecosystem restoration and water security,” he said. The minister said that this legislation will provide funds to the state governments, which will get 90 per cent of their share of funds – about Rs 52,000 crores – to plan better and utilise the fund for compensatory afforestation, conservation of wild flora and fauna, wildlife habitat management and regeneration of degraded forest and restoration of ecosystem services. He said the expenditure can be done as per the annual plan of operation, prepared in consultation with village committees, to ensure that the rights of tribal population are protected. “With this objective in view, the afforestation of indigenous plant species has been proposed,” he added.
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