NEW DELHI: Gram sabha consent will not be mandatory for taking up any afforestation project utilizing compensatory afforestation funds (CAF). The Centre has recently notified the compensatory afforestation fund rules 2018 for localisation of more than Rs 66,000 crores (collected so far), by states and union territories for afforestation and conservation projects in forest areas.
There is also no clause in the rules on sharing the benefits from afforestation projects with forest dwellers affected by forest diversion for various development projects. Every time forest land is diverted for non-forest purposes like mining or industry, the user agency is supposed to “afforest” an area of the same size of the forests that were diverted. Since these plantations do not immediately provide the ecological services that a natural forest would provide, the law requires the user agency to compensate the loss by paying the “net present value (NPV)” of the forests for the next 50 years. This money is collected in the CAF administered by a national authority to be constituted. Forest rights activists and researchers have been arguing that forest dwellers affected by loss of forests should benefit from the funds. Read more
Courtesy: The Times of India