The Union Government has unlocked green funds worth over Rs 66,000 crore 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, since the past 10 years.
The government has finally notified the rules for utilisation of the money by states and Union Territories and for setting up of authorities to monitor its use for afforestation and conservation.
• The rules were framed two years after a law to this effect was enacted. However, they were notified on August 10, 2018.
• The rules specify that 80 per cent of the green fund will be utilised by the states for green activities listed under 13 permissible activities.
• The activities include plantation, 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.
• 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.