New Delhi: The government on Wednesday gave its nod to move amendments to a bill which paves the way for expeditious utilisation in a transparent manner of over Rs 40,000 crore earmarked for forest land which is lying unspent.
The bill is expected to be tabled in Parliament in the second half of the budget session which will start from 25 April.
"The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi today gave its approval to move official amendments in the Compensatory Afforestation Fund Bill, 2015," an official statement said.
The legislation will ensure expeditious utilization of accumulated unspent amounts available with the ad hoc Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority (CAMPA) which is presently around Rs 40,000 crore and...
....fresh accrual of compensatory levies and interest on accumulated unspent balance, which will be of the order of approximately Rs 6,000 crore per annum, in an efficient and transparent manner, the statement said.
Apart from facilitating timely execution of appropriate measures to mitigate impact of diversion of forest land, utilisation of these amounts will also result in creation of productive assets and generation of huge employment opportunities in the rural areas, especially the backward tribal areas.
Javadekar had yesterday said,"We have received report of standing committee. Suggestions given by the committee has been incorporated. The Bill will be tabled in the Parliament in the coming session. We hope that all parties will support it," Javadekar said.
The amendments include deleting some of environmental services for which credible model to assess their monetary value does not exist while it also provides for prior consultation with states for making a rule under it.
The amendments provide for use of monies realised from the user agencies in lieu for forest land diverted in protected areas for voluntary relocation from protected areas.
It also provides for including secretaries of Ministries dealing with Space and Earth Sciences as members of governing body of the National Authority while it also increases the number of expert members in governing body of National Authority from two to five.
The amendments in the bill increases the number of expert members in executive committee of National Authority from two to three while it provides for the inclusion of an expert on tribal matters or representative of tribal community as a member in both steering committee and executive committee of a state authority.
The amendments also provide for laying of the annual report and the audit report along with memorandum of action taken on recommendations contained in the State Authority constituted in Union Territories having no legislature before each House of Parliament.
The legislation will extend to the whole of India except the State of Jammu and Kashmir, it said.
Government introduced the Compensatory Afforestation Fund Bill, 2015 in the Lok Sabha on 8 May 2015.
On 13 May 2015, Lok Sabha referred the Bill to the Department-related Parliamentary Standing Committee on Science and Technology, Environment and Forests.
On 26 February, this year, the Committee submitted its report to the Parliament. The Central government after examination of the report of the committee proposed to move official amendments in the Bill.