AG questions CAMPA fund use for relocation of Mukundra villages
The Auditor General of Rajasthan has raised objections over the use of CAMPA fund by the state forest department for relocation of villages in the Mukundra Hills Tiger ReserveUpdated: Dec 18, 2017 20:27 IST
The Auditor General (AG) of Rajasthan has raised objections over the use of Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority (CAMPA) fund by the state forest department for relocation of villages in the Mukundra Hills Tiger Reserve (MHTR), saying it was against the Supreme Court guidelines on the use of CAMPA fund.
The matter came to light through an RTI application filed by an activist Tapeshwar Singh Bhati with the forest department. Through the application, Bhati sought information on the allocation of CAMPA funds in 2015-16.
The AG’s audit report stated that CAMPA fund can be used for compensatory afforestation and for environment services including provision goods such as non timber forest products fuels, fodders and water. It can also be utilised for the research, training and capacity buildings. “As per the guidelines of the Supreme Court, state government can carry out only those works from CAMPA funds, which are related to the conservation, protection, regeneration and management of existing forest, wildlife and habitat of wildlife, but cannot use it for relocation of villages,” stated the audit report, conducted by the AG office this year.
According to the report, the state forest department had sought ₹5 crore in 2014-15 and ₹1.35 crore in 2015-16 from the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) for the relocation of 16 villages of MHTR. Although NTCA released funds for other works, it did not release any fund for the relocation of villages in MHTR.
When NTCA refused the funds, then additional principal chief conservator of forest (APCCF) of Rajasthan allocated ₹1.35 crore for the purpose from the CAMPA fund in 2015-16 hoping that the Union government will release some money, but the Union government did not release any money. When the APCCF released the money, around ₹65.75 lakh were already spent from the fund.
After the AG audit report raised objections over the issue, the forest department replied that the money was “used for ensuring conservation and protection of wildlife”. The AG office then forwarded the matter to the state forest secretary for comments.
Out of the 16 villages to be relocated from the MHTR, only two villages have been relocated so far, Bhati said. He said the Rajasthan high court in its earlier decisions on other issues had also objected to the misuse of the CAMPA fund by the state forest department.
The MHTR was announced the third tiger reserve of Rajasthan in 2013. It was formed joining wildlife sanctuaries of Kota, Bundi, Jhalawar and Chittorgarh districts. The forest department is planning to introduce tigers in MHTR, for which villages inside MHTR will have to be relocated.
First Published: Dec 18, 2017 20:27 IST