The UPA government’s Green India Programme (GIP) hit a legal hurdle on Wednesday. The Supreme Court (SC) stalled the transfer of about Rs 10,000 crore to the ambitious project from the custody of a court-appointed panel to a body proposed under a new law.
The government wanted to transfer the huge amount currently lying with a court-appointed panel to its Green India Programme, meant for wildlife protection and afforestation.
The programme envisages locating at least one acre of degraded forestland or other land for planting trees, using over Rs 9,000 crore lying with the ad-hoc Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority (CAMPA), a body set up on the orders of the court under the Ministry of Forest and Environment.
The money was collected by various states from user agencies in lieu of forestland diverted for non-forest purposes. It has in fact been invested in various nationalised banks by the court-appointed panel and the Centre proposed to shift it to Compensatory Afforestation Fund under the GIP.
The SC’s forest bench headed by Chief Justice of India K.G. Balakrishnan ordered a status quo on transfer of the fund, dashing the Centre’s hopes to get the amount for compensatory afforestation after the Central Empowered Committee appointed by the apex court objected to the government’s move.
The court also issued notices to all the states, asking them to submit within four weeks site-specific schemes on utilising these funds and asked the CAMPA to scrutinise the proposals and submit its report to it for a decision regarding release of funds. On behalf of the ministry, Solicitor General G.E. Vahanvati said so far 23 states and Union Territories had sent their proposals and CAMPA was scrutinising them.