Compensatory Afforestation Fund Act | UPSC – IAS
Compensatory Afforestation (CA) refers to afforestation and regeneration activities carried out as a way of compensating for forest land diverted to non-forest purposes. Here “non-forest purpose” means the breaking up or clearing of any forest land or a portion thereof for-
- The cultivation of tea, coffee, spices, rubber, palms, oil-bearing plants, horticultural crops or medicinal plants;
- any purpose other than reafforestation;
But does not include any work relating or ancillary to – Conservation, Development and management of forests and wildlife, namely,
- The establishment of check-posts,
- Fire lines,
- Wireless communications and construction of fencing,
- Bridges and culverts,
- Trench marks,
- Boundary marks,
- Pipelines or other like purposes.
Compensatory Afforestation (CA) is one of the most important conditions stipulated by the Central Government while approving proposals for de-reservation or diversion of forest land for non-forest use. The compensatory afforestation is an additional plantation activity and not a diversion of part of the annual plantation programme.
Elements of Schemes for Compensatory Afforestation | UPSC – IAS
The scheme for compensatory afforestation should contain the following details:-
- Details of equivalent non-forest or degraded forest land identified for raising compensatory afforestation.
- Delineation of proposed area on a suitable map.
- Agency responsible for afforestation.
- Details of work schedule proposed for compensatory afforestation.
- Cost structure of plantation, provision of funds and the mechanism to ensure that the funds will be utilised for raising afforestation.
- Details of proposed monitoring mechanism.
More about Compensatory afforestation Fund Act| UPSC – IAS
The government enacted Compensatory Afforestation Fund Act 2016 to provide a proper institutional mechanism for compensatory afforestation matters.
The salient features of the Act include:-
- The Act established National Compensatory Afforestation Fund (NCAF) under the Public account of India and State Compensatory Afforestation Funds under public accounts of states.
- The National Fund will receive 10% of these funds, and the State Funds will receive the remaining 90%.
- The fund will be used for compensatory afforestation, additional compensatory afforestation, penal compensatory afforestation, net present value, catchment area treatment plan or any money for compliance of conditions stipulated by the Central Government while according approval under the provisions of the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980.
- Act provides statutory status for two ad-hoc institutions, namely
- National Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority (NCAFM-PA) for management and utilisation of NCAF.
- State Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority for utilisation of State Compensatory Afforestation Fund.
- The act also seeks to provide for constitution of a multidisciplinary monitoring group to monitor activities undertaken from these funds.
- The act also provides for annual audit of the accounts by the Comptroller and Auditor General.
Issues with the Act | UPSC – IAS
- Compromising community forest rights: The land identified for compensatory afforestation would be under forest department’s jurisdiction thus, having adverse consequences for the hard-won rights of tribals and forest dwellers.
- Lack of monitoring mechanism for expenditure from funds despite findings of Comptroller and Auditor General in 2013 about massive misutilization of funds by the forest department.
- Scarcity of land as land is a limited resource, and is required for multiple purposes, such as agriculture, industry, etc. The problem is compounded by unclear land titles.
- Inadequate Capacity of state forest departments for planning and implementation. Still utilisation of 90% of funds depend on it.
- Low quality forest cover: Compensatory afforestation cannot make up for the ecological value lost by cutting the existing forests. Also, computing the appropriate Net Present Value of a forest is a challenge.
- Poor survival rate of plantations raised under compensatory afforestation also raises serious questions about their effectiveness.
- Diversion as land banks: The creation of land banks for Compensatory afforestation from revenue forests and degraded forests (on which communities have got traditional rights) further allows for takeover of community land.
A Way forward | UPSC – IAS
- Primacy of Gram sabha: The CAF Act needs to be integrated with the FRA and PESA by centring the role of gram sabhas and incorporating land and forest rights guarantees.
- Management of Compensatory afforestation: Emphasis should not only be on plantation but also on the maintenance of Compensatory afforestation.