Cabinet approves changes in bill on afforestation

New Delhi, April 20 (IANS) The union cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday gave its approval to move official amendments in the Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management And Planning Authority (CAMPA) Bill, 2015.

The CAMPA Bill is meant to promote afforestation and regeneration activities to compensate for forest land diverted to non-forest uses, by regulating and managing $5.3 billion (almost Rs.350 billion) collected over years.

The government in a statement said this legislation will ensure efficient and transparent utilisation of “unspent amount” of Rs.40,000 crore under the ad hoc CAMPA. This unspent amount, submitted at banks, generates approximately Rs.6,000 crore per annum as “compensatory levies” and “interest”.

“Utilisation of these amounts will facilitate timely execution of appropriate measures to mitigate impact of diversion of forest land, for which these amounts have been realised,” the government said in a statement.

“Apart from mitigating the impact of diversion of forest land, utilisation of these amounts will result in creation of productive assets and generation of huge employment opportunities in the rural areas, especially the backward tribal areas.”

The Narendra Modi government in April 2015 approved the bill for introduction in parliament. However, it was rejected in theRajya Sabha, where the government is in minority.

The cabinet decision to amend the CAMPA Bill provisions came just two days before India is to officially sign the COP-21 Global Climate Agreement at New York City on April 22.

The bill was also included in a report issued by Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar, listing it as India’s action after the Paris Agreement on Climate Change.

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