Compensatory Afforestation Fund Act 2016

Compensatory Afforestation Fund Act 2016 (CAMPA) – UPSC

In this article, You will read Compensatory Afforestation Fund Act 2016 (CAMPA Act 2016) – for UPSC.

Compensatory Afforestation Fund Act 2016

The Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority (CAMPA) Act or Compensatory Afforestation Fund Act seeks to provide an appropriate institutional mechanism, both at the Centre and in each State and Union Territory, to ensure expeditious utilization in the efficient and transparent manner of amounts released in lieu of forest land diverted for the non-forest purpose which would mitigate the impact of diversion of such forest land.

The CAF Act was passed by the centre in 2016 and the related rules were notified in 2018.

The CAF Act was enacted to manage the funds collected for compensatory afforestation which till then was managed by ad hoc Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority (CAMPA).

  • Compensatory afforestation means that every time forest land is diverted for non-forest purposes such as mining or industry, the user agency pays for planting forests over an equal area of non-forest land, or when such land is not available, twice the area of degraded forest land.

It seeks to establish the National Compensatory Afforestation Fund under the Public Account of India, and a State Compensatory Afforestation Fund under the Public Account of each state.

As per the rules, 90% of the CAF money is to be given to the states while 10% is to be retained by the Centre.

The funds can be used for the treatment of catchment areas, assisted natural generation, forest management, wildlife protection and management, relocation of villages from protected areas, managing human-wildlife conflicts, training and awareness generation, the supply of wood saving devices, and allied activities.

The act also seeks to establish National and State Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authorities to manage the funds.

The determination of NPV (Net Present Value) will be delegated to an expert committee constituted by the central government. NPV is the ecological cost of forests.

Objectives of CAMPA Law

  • To promote afforestation and development activities in order to compensate for forest land that is intended to be diverted to non-forest uses.
  • To law down effective guidelines for the State
  • To facilitate necessary assistance in terms of scientific, technological, and other requisites that may be required by the authority responsible for the State CAMPA.
  • To recommend measures based on strategic planning to the authorities of the State CAMPA
  • To resolve issues that arise between inter-state or Centre-State.

CAMPA Act 2016:

  1. To compensate for the loss of forest area and to maintain sustainability, the Government of India came up with a well-defined Act, known as CAMPA (Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority).
  2. The law establishes the National Compensatory Afforestation Fund under the Public Account of India and a State Compensatory Afforestation Fund under the Public Account of each state.
  3. These Funds will receive payments for 
    • (i) compensatory afforestation,
    • (ii) Net present value of forest (NPV), and
    • (iii) other project specific payments. 
  4. The National Fund will receive 10% of these funds, and the State Funds will receive the remaining 90%.
  5. According to the Act’s provision, a company diverting forest land must provide alternative land to take up compensatory afforestation.
  6. For afforestation, the company should pay to plant new trees in the alternative land provided to the state.

Criticism/Issues with CAMPA:

  • In 2002, the Supreme Court had observed that collected funds for afforestation were under-utilized by the states and it ordered for centrally pooling of funds under ad hoc Compensatory Afforestation Fund.
  • The law says that land selected for afforestation should preferably be contiguous to the forest being diverted so that it is easier for forest officials to manage it. But if no suitable non-forest land is found, degraded forests can be chosen for afforestation. In several states like Chattisgarh, Odisha, and Jharkhand where the intensity of mining is very high, finding the non-forest land for afforestation to compensate for the loss of forest is a big task.
  • Utilization of CAMPA fund: Several state governments are not utilizing it properly. An amount of Rs 86 lakh from CAMPA funds meant for afforestation was reportedly spent on litigation work in Punjab.
  • Infrastructure development is one area of fund usage. Experts argue that CAMPA funds can become general development fund.
  • Moreover, at several places, the loss of natural species is compensated with the plantation of non-native species in the name of the artificial plantation. It serves as a threat to even the existing ecosystem.
  • Questions can be raised on the quality of new forests.
  • There is no provision regarding consultation of tribal Gram Sabhas during compensatory afforestation. It defeats the pith and substance of the Forest Rights Act.

Way Forward:

  1. The proposed objective of the Act must be fulfilled by utilizing the CAMPA funds only for the purpose it is meant for. It should efficiently be used only for afforestation and wildlife conservation activities.
  2. A closer look at the state government activities using CAMPA funding is needed. The central government should adopt the concept of outcome budgeting for allocation of funds to the state government in which funding will be done on an installment basis by checking the outcome of previous funds.
  3. State governments should restore the existing forests rather than creating new ones.

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