Good job bringing this to light. People won't realise how huge the problem is and municipalities are woefully ill equipped to...
Agreed; mining can never be sustainable, but then how do you get the metals to make all the things you need in the course of...
Very good piece.
Rs 11,000 crore to go to states for afforestation
THE Supreme Court has ordered that Rs 11,000 crore, collected for diversion of forestland for non-forest uses, be released to state
governments. States in India have long fought the Centre to recover the money they gave to the compensatory afforestation fund. Collected over
seven years, the money has been lying idle because the states and the Centre disagreed over controlling the money.
The money came under Central control, via a Supreme Court intervention in 2002, because the states had not utilized the money. The states
alleged that the Centre retained far too much control in its earlier plans (see 'Why states are against campa?'
Down To Earth, January 15, 2006).
The apex court ordered the Rs 11,000 crore will be released in phases; Rs 1,000 crore every year for five years.Each state will get an amount
proportionate to its contribution. An ad-hoc compensatory afforestation management and planning authority ( class='UCASE'>campa), appointed by the court in 2006, will disburse the funds.
The order came on July 10 after the Union environment ministry consulted states and formulated guidelines for using the money in March. The
guidelines were revised after Jairam Ramesh took charge as the minister of state for environment in May.
The revision happened because the ministry wanted more control. The Centre will have an advisory council to monitor how states spend funds. It
will also frame guidelines and arbitrate in any inter-state dispute. Ramesh will head the council.
Each state will also set up its own campa and funds will be channelled through it. The state-level
class='UCASE'>campa will be three-tiered, with governing, steering and executive committees (see box). "If these committees get their
act together, we will transfer the money, including interest (after five years) and let them control it. Then the Central ad-hoc committee will be
dissolved," said Ansar Ahmed, member of the ad-hoc campa and inspector-general of forests in the environment
ministry. The government will also coordinate compensatory afforestation plans with the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme to boost
The Comptroller and Auditor General (cag) of India will audit both the
ad-hoc campa at the Centre and the state-level campa bodies. The Union ministry
or state governments can call for a performance audit if they feel it is warranted. "Since the money in campa is
public money, cag should audit," said Rajeev Dhavan, a supreme court advocate.
The central empowered committee (cec) that advises the Supreme Court on forest matters has often disagreed
with the ministry on how the funds should be managed.
But it accepted the latest plan. "We are content with the ministry's guidelines on campa. It conforms to most of our
recommendations," said a cec member.
States are not quite sure how the money will be disbursed. Some are under the impression that
they will get back their money at one go. "The Supreme Court has ordered all money be returned to the states, and that is what the ministry is
doing," said P B Gangopadhyay, principal chief conservator of forests, Madhya Pradesh.
Karnataka is content to know that it will
get its share of the fund.
"There is no problem in the disbursal mechanism. We don't mind the instalments," said S Nagaraj, principal chief
conservator of forests in Bengaluru.