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Jayanthi Natarajan turns down proposal seeking Rs 1K crore under CAMPA

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Issue date: 
Jan 27, 2012
Publisher Name: 
The Economic Times India
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NEW DELHI: Environment minister Jayanthi Natarajan has asked the Comptroller and Auditor General to review the spending of the funds of the Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority (CAMPA). The move is an effort to ensure transparency in implementation of the compensatory afforestation and sustainable forestry programme.

Natarajan informed the authority of her decision to ask the auditor to look into the use of funds earmarked for sustainable forest management at its meeting on Wednesday.


At the meeting chaired by Natarajan, which was focused mainly of review of fund utilisation, the minister turned down a proposal to divert over 1,000 crore earmarked for sustainable development under the CAMPA to set up two forestry institutes in Delhi.

Director general of forests PJ Dilip Kumar had proposed utilising the money accrued under CAMPA to set up two institutes - a Sustainable Forestry and Natural Resources Institute and Indian National Forestry Documentation Centre.

Natarajan is understood to have made it clear that the funds accrued for compensatory afforestation cannot be diverted for other purposes. She stressed that the CAMPA fund is aimed at increasing the density of forests, regeneration of forests and wildlife habitats and other related ecological security enhancing purposes. Therefore, it was out of question to allow the use of CAMPA fund for any other purpose. The spirit of CAMPA should be regeneration and protection of forests and 1000 crore from the funds cannot be allocated for other purposes, official sources said, quoting Natarajan.

The minister also put on hold Kumar's proposal to allocate 1 crore from the CAMPA fund to organise second Indian Forest Congress in Bangalore.

According to the sources, Natarajan said she could not pass the proposal without verifying whether it was in keeping with established guidelines.

However, there could be a hiccup in Natarajan's transparency plans. The sources said the minister has written two letters to CAG Vinod Rai requesting him to scrutinise the expenditure and outcome of the forestry works initiated utilising the CAMPA fund, which is lying in banks. Rai is understood to have informed Natarajan that the CAG can audit the fund if the government shifts the money being kept in various nationalised banks to the Public Accounts of India. The money could not be shifted from the bank accounts as the programme is being implemented as per the order of the Supreme Court.

The CAMPA funds are basically money that project developers have to deposit in lieu of the diversion of forest land for non-forest purposes. The money has to be used by the state for afforestation and sustainable forestry. Since October 2002, nearly 11,000 crore ( 9,900 crore of principal amount and 1,300 crore of interest accrued till 2009) was lying idle in the CAMPA. In July 2009, the Supreme Court, after an agreement with the government, ordered release of the money which was lying in banks to regenerate forests in states that contributed to the fund. As per the agreement, the money was to be distributed in tranches of 1,000 crore annually for plans approved by authorities. This sum of 1,000 crore was to be distributed on a pro-rata basis among the states. The spending is monitored by the Central Empowered Committee, which gives a six-monthly report to the Supreme Court.


Extpub | by Dr. Radut