In what is being lauded as a big win for the environment, the Lok Sabha on the 3rd of May passed the Compensatory Afforestation Fund Bill of 2015.
Members of Parliament across party lines came out in support of the Bill, which is all set to play a great role in implementing the countrywide afforestation programme. The much-in-the-news Bill will also facilitate the setting up of a National Compensatory Afforestation Fund as well as a State Compensatory Afforestation Fund.
Calling it a “historic legislation,” Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar said that the Bill will see to the utilisation of the Rs. 41,000 crore fund that had been earmarked for forest land, but has so far been left unused.
Image for representation only. Source: Wikipedia
Outlining the salient features of the programme, Javadekar stressed the importance of people’s participation in the success of the programme. “Wherever people’s participation is there, and where people’s livelihood is connected to the forest, they just don’t allow illegal destruction of forest,” he said.
The programme will also ensure that no displacement takes place. “Besides the exotic plants, emphasis will be on native species,” Javadekar added.
Social audits will also be a crucial part of the programme to ensure transparency and accountability.
The Hindu also reports that the Bill will ensure that the funds encourage compensatory afforestation of which the national fund will receive 10 percent with the states receiving the remaining 90 percent.
These funds will then be put to use with afforestation programmes that will not only compensate the loss of forest cover, but will also lead to regeneration of the forest ecosystem, wildlife protection and infrastructure development.
With the numerous benefits it offers to the environment, it is no wonder that the Bill was passed unanimously by the Lok Sabha.