Prop review

By centre for forest scheme

By Neelam Singh
Published: Sunday 29 February 2004

the Union government is reconsidering its decision to curtail central support to states for projects under the Integrated Forest Protection Scheme (ifps). The new arrangement, which requires the centre to provide 75 per cent of the ventures' cost instead of bearing the entire expenses, has caused a lot of resentment among the Northeast (ne) states. The Union cabinet is expected to settle the matter in February.

In the current financial year, only two ne states -- Nagaland and Mizoram -- have taken money under the Rs 445-crore scheme. "We don't have funds to match the centre's share, but we still took the money because we expect the centre to grant complete funding eventually," explains C Ramhluna, principal chief conservator of forest, Mizoram.

V K Nautiyal, principal chief conservator of forest, Meghalaya, feels the ne region is already overburdened. "In the revenue-deficit ne states, huge sums are spent on law and order. In Meghalaya, the level of agriculture is very basic. Earlier timber used to be a major source of revenue, but now felling has been banned. The change in funding pattern is, therefore, very taxing."

The move to reduce the centre's share in the scheme was finalised in July 2003. "It was felt that the states should contribute the balance 25 per cent so that there is a sense of ownership and better utilisation of funds," points out an official of the Union ministry of environment and forests.

ifps was formulated in the 10th five-year plan, and was meant to be implemented across the country. Under it, states get funds to protect and improve forests through planning, surveys and infrastructure development.

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