Manipur received a much needed shot in the arm towards efforts to regenerate green cover of the state with the central government’s decision to hand over an amount to the tune of rupees three hundred and nine as Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority (CAMPA) fund to undertake afforestation and other related activities to preserve and regenerate nature and improve the environment. It is an Indian legislation that seeks to provide an appropriate institutional mechanism, both at the Centre and in each State and Union Territory, to ensure expeditious utilization in efficient and transparent manner of amounts released in lieu of forest land diverted for non-forest purpose which would mitigate impact of diversion of such forest land.
Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority (CAMPA) are meant to promote afforestation and regeneration activities as a way of compensating for forest land diverted to non-forest uses. National CAMPA Advisory Council has been established as per orders of the supreme court with the mandates to lay down broad guidelines for State CAMPA, to facilitate scientific, technological and other assistance that may be required by State CAMPA, to make recommendations to State CAMPA based on a review of their plans and programmes, and to provide a mechanism to State CAMPA to resolve issues of an inter-state or Centre-State character.
The amount handed over to the state will be utilized for compensatory afforestation, wildlife management, forest fire prevention, soil and moisture conservation works in forests, voluntary relocation of villages from protected areas, management of biological resources and biodiversity, research in forestry and monitoring of CAMPA works and activities provided in the Compensatory Afforestation Fund (CAF) rules, 2018.
The fund, if and when utilized properly will surely make a marked difference to the overall climatic condition in the state as well as the country as a whole as the funds are disbursed to twenty seven states in the country. The most significant change will undoubtedly be the rapidly soaring temperature each passing year. As in other parts of the country and indeed the world over, climate change has truly started to impact lives in more undesirable ways than the governments would care to admit, and such steps at reclaiming the rapidly declining green cover is a vital and timely step to curb the soaring temperature and the accompanying changes that are already impacting lives the world over. The significance of this step can be gauged by taking into consideration the panicky situation arising right this very moment across the farming sector due to the failure of monsoon this year, and if the past is any indication, the situation is bound to worsen with each passing year if preventive and corrective measures are not implemented in right earnest without further ado. A strict monitoring and constant appraisal of performance for which the funds are allocated need to be put in place with staffs who are well trained and motivated and equipped with the latest technology for the purpose.
There is however a word of caution that needs to be spelled out at this juncture because, either by institutionalized convention or out of personal greed by a few persons entrusted with such funds, the manner of implementation of such funds has always left a bitter taste for the public and are seen as easy sources of personal wealth. The public’s perception towards such development funds in the state have so far been pessimistic, and are viewed with suspicion and fatalistic outlook. There is still a big slip between the cup and the lip, and the act of disbursing the fund should be taken as a starting point of a challenge we as a collective cannot afford to lose. The vagaries of climate change has left many parts of the world writhing in misery, and we are having it easy for now as nature has endowed the place with such generosity, but the time to lay back and look the other, expecting nature to heal itself is past. Climate change is a real and present threat which will spare none. We are given a lifeline, and what we do with it will determine the future course of this state, and for those who wields authority for such a vital task, how they perform will decide their future as either a redeemer or a pariah.