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Green India Mission faces fund crunch

Business Standard, New Delhi, 6th June, 2013

Green India Mission, the Rs 46,000-crore ambitious project meant to increase the country’s forest cover, is struggling to keep itself rolling due to fund crunch.

The ministry of environment and forests (MoEF) is planning to approach the union cabinet soon to secure at least Rs 23,000 crore during the current plan period to sustain the project.  

In fact, the entire Green India Mission, which is about increasing the forest cover by around 12% by 2020,  would be up for cabinet review.  

“This sort of a mission cannot be funded from the plan funds of a particular ministry. We have prepared a Cabinet note on this and the entire mission is going before the Cabinet soon,” said V Rajagopalan, Secretary MoEF.

While addressing a World environment day meet today, Environment Minister Jayanthi Natarajan put the onus on the states for the success of the project and said that the Centre cannot clear money unless the state comes up with a particular land area.

The mission was struggling with a meager Rs 100 crore Budgetary support in 2011-12.  According to an official source, MoEF is looking for more state-level partnerships to make the project successful.

The national mission for a green India is one of the eight missions under the 'National Action Plan on Climate Change' that aims to increase forest and tree cover on 5 million hectare area, improve quality of forest cover on another 5 million hectare area by 2020.

“We are keeping our fingers crossed that the government allots more fund to us. During the 12th Plan, we need at least Rs 23,000 crore for the projects to go ahead and almost the same amount during the 13th Plan Period,” said Jude Sekhar, Inspector General of Forests, MoEF.

In order to run the project, MoEF had even moved the apex court to seek permission for using Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority (CAMPA).

Under the scheme, about Rs 49.95 crore was released to 21 states for carrying out preparatory activities in the identified landscapes under the Green India Mission.

“Unless there is no state-level partnerships, such projects cannot go ahead. Rather than looking for funds from the centre, states should also chip in,” said R K Pachauri, Director General of TERI.