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Cabinet approves changes in Bill on afforestation

The Union Cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on Wednesday gave its approval to move official amendments in the Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management And Planning Authority (CAMPA) Bill, 2015.

The CAMPA Bill is meant to promote afforestation and regeneration activities to compensate for forest land diverted to non-forest uses by regulating and managing $5.3 billion (almost Rs 350 billion) collected over years.

The government in a statement said this legislation would ensure efficient and transparent utilisation of “unspent amount” of Rs 40,000 crore under the ad hoc CAMPA. This unspent amount, submitted at banks, generates approximately Rs 6,000 crore per annum as “compensatory levies” and “interest”. 

“The utilisation of these amounts will facilitate timely execution of appropriate measures to mitigate the impact of diversion of forest land, for which these amounts have been realised,” the government said in a statement. “Apart from mitigating the impact of diversion of forest land, utilisation of these amounts will result in the creation of productive assets and generation of huge employment opportunities in the rural areas, especially the backward tribal areas,” it added.

The Narendra Modi government had in April 2015 approved the Bill for introduction in Parliament. However, it was rejected in the Rajya Sabha, where the government is in minority.
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