Against 15,155 hectares forest area diverted, afforestation done on 73,994 hectares in J&K

Rs 890 cr expenditure made under CAMPA in last 12 yrs

*Installation of boundary pillars picked up substantially

Mohinder Verma

JAMMU, Oct 10: Against 15,155 hectares of forest area diverted in Jammu and Kashmir for non-forest purposes, compensatory afforestation has been done on 73,994 hectares from 2010-11 till ending March 2022 including treatment under Net Present Value (NPV). Moreover, a total expenditure of Rs 890.31 crore has been incurred in last 12 years under Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority (CAMPA).
The transfer of forest land for non-forest purposes is being regulated under Forest Conservation Act, 1980 since October 31, 2019. Prior to that, it used to be regulated under J&K Forest (Conservation) Act, 1997. The user agencies are required to pay cost of Compensatory Afforestation in lieu of the forest land diverted for non-forest purposes. Besides, the value of ecosystem goods and services of forests lost due to diverted lands, termed “Net Present Value” is charged from user agencies.
As per the official data, the copy of which is available with EXCELSIOR, a total of 13903 hectares of forest land has been diverted for non-forest purposes during the period from 1990 till October 30, 2019 under J&K Forest (Conservation) Act, 1997. Further, in-principle (stage-I) approval for diversion of a total of 1252 hectares has been granted ending August 2022 under the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980 after its coming into force in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir with effect from December 31, 2019.
The Forest Department was required to carry out compensatory afforestation over equivalent non-forest land or treat double in extent the degraded forest areas as per the approval condition in each case. Against 30,310 hectares compensatory afforestation targets (double the area diverted), a total of 73,994 hectare area of degraded forests has been rehabilitated ending March 2022 with the planting of 496.10 lakh plants although only 21.39 lakh of trees/poles/saplings were involved in FCA cases.
About expenditure under CAMPA, the data reveals that a total expenditure of Rs 890.31 crore has been incurred in last 12 years (from 2010-11 to end of March 2022) which includes Rs 722 crore by the Forest and allied departments and Rs 168.30 crore by Wildlife Protection Department.
During the financial year 2021-22, against the total approved outlay of Rs 252.01 crore, the total expenditure ending March 2022 was Rs 127.74 crore. Besides, liability/spillover works of financial year 2021-22 amounting to Rs 10.05 crore will be released in financial year 2022-23.
As far as year-wise expenditure incurred under CAMPA by J&K Forest and allied departments and Wildlife Protection Department is concerned, the expenditure was Rs 1888.97 lakh in 2010-11 and the same increased to Rs 11351.34 lakh in 2019-20 and Rs 12774.05 lakh in 2021-22.
About the physical achievements under CAMPA, the data reveals that a total of 2885 hectares of area was treated in 2010-11 and this number increased to 12474 hectares during 2020-21. Likewise, only 890 boundary pillars were installed in 2010-11 but this number increased to 7176 in 2020-21 and 9669 in 2021-22.
As per the CAMPA guidelines, the norms have been fixed for internal verification and inspection of works at field level by the field functionaries. The Forester is required to conduct 100% verification, Range Officer at least 80%, Divisional Forest Officer at least 50%, Conservator of Forests at least 20% and Chief Conservator of Forests at least 10%.
In Kashmir region, out of 373 plantation units formed during 2016-17 to 2021-22, 243 units were monitored during 2021-22 by the field officers of various levels. In 212 units, fencing was found fully effective while as in 30 units the same was noticed moderately effective. The survival of plants was more than 75% in 119 units, between 50 to 75% in 86 units, between 25 to 50% in 29 units and 10 to 25% in four units.
As per the official document, independent third-party monitoring of CAMPA works for the period 2012-13 to 2018-19 has been completed. The monitoring team has termed the performance as Very Good and Good.