The Centre has unlocked more than 66,000 crore rupees to increase the country’s forest cover. The fund is an accumulated amount of money which user agencies have been depositing as compensation for diverting forest land for non-forest purposes, including industries and infrastructure, over the last 10 years.
The Centre has finally notified the rules for utilisation of the money by states and Union Territories, and for setting up authorities to monitor its use for afforestation and conservation. The rules have been framed two years after a law to this effect was enacted. The rules, notified on Friday, specify that 80 percent of the compensatory afforestation amount will be utilised by states for plantations, assisted natural regeneration of forests, forest fire prevention, pest and disease control in forest, soil and moisture conservation works and improvement of wildlife habitat, among others, in the list of 13 permissible activities.
The remaining 20 percent will be used for 11 listed works to strengthen forest and wildlife protection related infrastructure. The list includes third-party monitoring of works, forest certification, development of certification standards and casual hiring of local people to assist forest department staff.