The much awaited Compensatory Afforestation Fund (CAF) Bill, which will unlock 42000 crore fund for forest and wildlife protection, has been approved by the Rajya Sabha. The pending bill was passed by the Lok Sabha in May 2016. After the President’s nod, the funds unlocked by the passage of the bill will be utilized for increasing forest cover, forest regeneration as well as all related allied activities to protect the green cover.
At present, any user agency which diverts forest land for non-forest use, deposits a certain amount to Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority (CAMPA). The accumulated fund is then utilized to off-set any damages caused by forest land diversion. CAMPA is in custody of the accumulated 42000 crore fund.
With the passage of this bill, a national authority at the Centre as well as one in each of the participating states will be set-up, to ensure proper utilization of these funds. The authorities will also monitor an additional 6000 crore fund annually (over and above this 42000 crore) which would be collected in future for diversion of forest land. The government has assured that rights of tribals/forest dwellers will not be compromised while undertaking any of the forest related activities.