The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has directed the state government to utilise Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority (CAMPA) funds only for tree plantation.
The green tribunal also ordered the government to hold regular meetings of CAMPA’s state-level governing body so as to apprise the chief minister — who heads CAMPA — about the work progress and take necessary directions.
In its order dated February 24, the NGT said that the state-level governing body met only once on September 22, 2010. Thereafter, during the past five years, no meeting of the governing body of the state CAMPA was convened and only the meetings of state-level steering committee were held.
“We are of the view that it is of utmost importance that the governing body of the state CAMPA headed by the CM also meets at regular intervals,” observed the Bhopal bench of NGT, headed by Justice Dalip Singh and expert member PS Rao.
The tribunal also directed the government to utilise CAMPA funds only for planting trees and not to divert funds elsewhere.
The tribunal gave the directions while disposing of a petition by environmentalist Babu Lal Jaju, who had moved a petition in August last year claiming that funds to the tune of Rs. 546 crore under CAMPA were not utilised to plant trees.
In its earlier hearing in December last year, the tribunal had sought detailed reply by February 24 from the state government on the total deposit in the state’s CAMPA and spending from the fund so far.
The bench also ruled that it is for the authorities concerned to take appropriate action if CAMPA fund was spent on other heads in the past.
In its reply, the government submitted that the CAMPA funds were not spent on work other than plantation.
The government’s statement, however, revealed a gap between allocation and utilisation of the amount received from 2009-10 to 2014-15. The allocation was Rs. 238.48 crore, whereas the utilisation up to January 2015 was Rs. 180.33 crore.
“There is a shortfall in utilization of allocated funds. This needs to be addressed by the state government and more particularly the necessity of evaluating the work done in the past so that protection and survival rate of the plantation works undertaken under compensatory afforestation can be analysed,” the bench ordered.