The union environment ministry transferred ₹47,436 crores to 27 states for afforestation o Thursday. For over a decade now, this amount has been collected in the customary afforestation Fund (CAF), a ₹54,000 crore tranche which collects amount as an environmental compensation from various industries using forest lands for its business ventures.
The amount paid by the industries depends on the economic values of services and goods that the used by forest land would have provided. These goods include timber, bamboo, firewood, carbon sequestration, soil conservation, water recharge, and seed dispersal. Industrialists are bound to replace these goods with money and this money is then transferred to the States concerned with carrying out afforestation.
Only a small fraction of this quantity had been disbursed to States in reality and this is due to the lack of a legal framework and past incidents of States using it for non-forestry purposes.
The CAF Act 2016, established an independent authority — the Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority — to execute the fund to the states concerned with afforestation.
“The Fund will be used as per provisions of the CAF Act and Rules. These include catchment area treatment, wildlife management, forest fire-prevention, soil, and moisture conservation work in the forest….it cannot be used for payment of salary, traveling allowances, making buildings and buying office equipment for forest officers. We will use electronic repositories, geographical tagging for tracking expenses,” union environment minister Prakash Javedkar said.
Odisha was the top recipient of funds by receiving nearly ₹6,000 crore followed by Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh with ₹5,791 crore and ₹5,196 crore respectively. Kerala got the least with ₹81.59 crore.