MoEF seeks more funds to improve green cover

The Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) has sought Rs 462 crore in its budgetary allocation for improving the forest cover in India by five million hectares over the next 10 years as part of the Green India Mission. This is a substantial increase from Rs 4 crore allocated in 2012-13. The mission had taken off in 2011 with an initial fund of Rs 100 crore. In a bid to generate its own resources, the MoEF has also moved the Supreme Court to draw money from its compensatory afforestation funds.

Sources said the MoEF has sought permission from the apex court to withdraw Rs 515 crore from the afforestation fund, a corpus collected from user agencies towards compensatory afforestation, penal compensatory afforestation, net present value of forest land diverted and so on.

The fund has Rs 25,000 crore and is managed by the Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority (CAMPA). As per SC guidelines of 2009, funds up to Rs 1,000 crore can be given to state CAMPA. Since MoEF was Rs 515 crore over and above this amount, it has moved the SC.

The Green India Mission also aims to improve forest cover so that by 2020 India's forests are able to capture 50 to 60 million tonnes of carbon dioxide a year, offsetting about six per cent of total emissions. The MoEF is targeting scaling up plantation in both forest and non-forest areas this year and has taken up the issue with the Planning Commission.

The mission focuses on improvement of ecosystem services, including biodiversity, hydrological services and carbon sequestration while also aiming to increase forest-based livelihood incomes for 3 million families. India currently has about 70 million hectares under forests but about 40 per cent of this is degraded or bad quality forests.

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