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Centre keen on giving major chunk of forest fund to states, says Javadekar

 NEW DELHI: The government on Tuesday said it has prepared a plan to ensure that state governments get 90% of the Rs 35,000 crore kept under Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority (CAMPA) fund.

 

Replying to a discussion on the demands for grants of his ministry, environment and forests minister Prakash Javadekar said the amount is blocked in litigations and the government would strive to release a major chunk of it to the states.

 

He said there is a national authority under the Environment Protection Act. "We are asking each state to set up an authority under them ... We will ensure that the CAMPA fund reaches to the states which are really in need of it," Javadekar said.

 

Noting that the priority is to simplify procedures without destructing the environment, the minister said the government plans to convert degraded and barren forests into dense, green forests and it's the government's commitment.

 

Highlighting the steps taken by the new government to simplify the procedures in the ministry that had become a "no go" zone, Javadekar said it has cleared 6,000 km of border roads soon after assuming power "in national interest".

 

Listing out measures initiated by the Narendra Modi government to expedite environmental clearances, he said, "We have to take development and environment protection at equal level" and that his ministry has made the processes for environmental and forest clearances through online.

 

Contending that he does not want to get into a blame game including how the ministry during the earlier regime was branded for certain "taxes" as mentioned by the MPs, Javadekar said earlier environment ministry was perceived as a "road block" ministry.

 

On recommendations made by Kasturirangan and Madhav Gadgil committees with respect to Western Ghats, Javadekar assured that no decision would be taken without holding consultations with the states concerned. "We will look at the ground realities before taking any decisions," he said adding that ground truthing process has started.

 

On the concerns of cut in budgetary allocation, Javadekar said it has not been reduced but only re-allocated.

 

The minister allayed concerns expressed by members on the issue of tribals' rights over forests, saying the rights of forest dwellers on forest produces will be protected at any cost. He also assured strict enforcement of law to check the incidents of illegal sand mining which is rampant in many parts of the country.

 

The Times of India (23/07/2014)