The Lok Sabha has passed the Iconic Compensatory Afforestation Fund Bill, 2015 in around last week of April, 2016. The Minister for environment Mr. Prakash Javadekar has termed the bill ‘Historic’ and is hopeful that the bill should go a long way in ensuring countrywide afforestation program. The bill provides for the establishment of funds under the public accounts of India and the public accounts of each State and crediting thereto the monies received from the user agencies towards compensatory afforestation in heads such as additional and penal and any such other amount received from such user agencies under The Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980. The monies so collected shall be used towards undertaking artificial regeneration (plantations), assisted natural regeneration, protection of forests, forest related infrastructure development, Green India Programme, wildlife protection and other related activities.
The government shall introduce the bill in Rajya Sabha in the upcoming monsoon session.
Ministry of environment is hopeful that the enactment shall generate more than Rs.6000 Crores to states every year and this generation could be used for the afforestation programe and expand the green acres. Apart from the generation of new fund, the government also plans to spend the earmarked Rs. 40,000/- Crore which has been pre-lying in the fund. The government plans to transfer the 90% of the fund to state and remaining 10% will be retained by center of the total fund and the funds shall be channelized through state and national authorities respectively for use of monitoring and undertaking research activities.
No doubt, the level of pollution has grown to an alarming level and 4 to 5 cities of India top in the rankings of Most Polluted Cities on the global level. The enactment of such a bill and the promises made by the ministry of environment by virtue of this bill shall be a environment savior given the funds are properly utilized.
The minister has also emphasized on the importance of public participation and social audit. Delaying of passage of such bill will not only depace the afforestation drive but may also deprive early employment to the tribal and native people of forests who the government of thought would be a prospective volunteers in the drive.