Environment minister Jayanthi Natarajan and country top-most forest official and director general of Forest PJ Dalip Kumar are at loggerheads over forestry issues.
Natarajan on Wednesday rejected Kumar's proposal to set up two forest research centers in Delhi with a corpus of Rs 1,000 crore from an afforestation fund monitored by a Supreme Court committee.
Kumar wanted the government to agree for setting up National Institute of Forestry and Natural Resources and Indian National Forest Documentation Centre for research in addition to Dehradun based Indian Council for Forestry Research and Education and Forest Survey of India. He had also sought one crore from the fund to organize Indian Forest Congress in Bangalore, which was also rejected.
The proposals were discussed at a meeting of ad-hoc committee of Compensatory Afforestation Fund (CAMPA) headed by Natarajan on Wednesday.
The fund was started on directions of the Supreme Court, which wanted that the money collected for allowing diversion of forestland for projects by the central government should be used for rejuvenation of forests. There is about Rs 25,000 crore in Campa for the job.
According to official sources, the minister was of the view that these proposals were against the basic spirit of CAMPA as the money cannot be given only for regeneration of forests.
But, that has not happened as state governments have reduced their plan allocation for forestry claiming that the money would be available for the same from CAMPA. Campa was supposed to augment state government's efforts to protect forests and not as a substitute to plan funds,a senior ministry official said.
What has apparently irked the minister is that Campa funds are being sought for all purposes in name of forestry, which would dilute the basic purpose of setting up of the fund.
When contacted Natarjan refused to comment but the forest division officials said there was no money available with the government to set up these dedicated institutes and therefore, money was sought from Campa.
Earlier, Natarajan had overruled objections of Kumar for importing Cheetahs from Namabia for release in wild in Kuno Palpur in Madhya Pradesh.