Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority (CAMPA) is meant to compensate for the losses incurred in diversion of the forest land for various purposes. Data indicates that only about 27% of the dedicated CAMPA funds were utilized between 2019-20 and 2021-22.
India State of Forest Report – 2021 (IFSR 2021) reports an increase of 1.5 thousand sq. kms of Forest cover compared to the assessment in the year 2019. This is only a minute increase with the total forest Cover in the country with around 21.71% compared to 21.67% earlier.
The report states that while activities like felling of tress, natural calamities, anthropogenic pressures, and developmental activities contributed to loss in forest cover in some states, better conservation measures, afforestation activities, tree plantation drives, etc. have contributed to increase in forest cover in few other states.
Such measures of afforestation to counter the loss of forest cover due to various developmental activities is the core idea behind Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority (CAMPA).
Low utilization of CAMPA funds has been an issue since its inception in 2002. Compensatory Afforestation Fund Act, 2016 established a National Compensatory Afforestation Fund under the Public Account of India and State Compensatory Afforestation Fund under Public Account of each state. The Compensatory Afforestation Fund Rules were also formulated to encourage utilisation of CAMPA funds. A detailed explainer on CAMPA funds can be read here. But what has been the trends in allocation and utilisation of the CAMPA funds in the recent years? Here is an analysis.
CAMPA funds worth 51.7 thousand crores transferred to States since 2019-20
The details of the funds released by ad hoc CAMPA until 2018-19 prior to the rules came into force can be read from here. A recent response of the Union government in the parliament provides details of transfer of States/UTs shares of CAMPA fund to respective States & UT governments. As per the data, from 2019-20 to January 2023, a total of Rs. 51.77 thousand crores were transferred to all the states & UTs.
During 2019-20, i.e., the first full year after the new CAMPA fund rules were implemented, a total of Rs. 47.86 thousand crores were released to the States as their share. Few of the UTs which missed out in 2019-20 received the funds in 2020-21. A total of Rs. 2.8 thousand crores were released in 2021-22 for 11 States/UTs.
Among the States, Odisha has received the highest cumulative share of CAMPA funds with Rs.6.28 thousand since during this period followed by Madhya Pradesh with Rs.6.12 thousand crores. These two States along with Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand & Maharashtra account for 52% of the total funds released to all the States/UTs since 2019-20. Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Odisha & Maharashtra are among the states with the highest area under forest cover as per the latest State of Forest report – 2021.
Total Value of APOs submitted by States and approved is only about 45% of the allocation
The States and UTs that have received the funds under CAMPA are required to submit their Annual Plan of Operations (APOs) as prepared by State CAMPA. This is as pet the provisions of CAF Act, 2016 & the Rules that were framed under this Act. These APOs are required to be approved by National Authority.
In a response provided in Lok Sabha on 13 March 2023, Government of India furnished details of the value of the APOs that were approved. This is for the three complete years of 2019-20, 2020-21 & 2021-22. The total value of approved APOs is Rs. 23.22 thousand crores during these three years. This is about 45% of the total funds released to the states during this period.
There are large variances among the states in the value of the approved APOs compared to the CAMPA funds received by them.
The approved APOs for Gujarat is higher than the funds received by the state. The total value of approved APOs in the three years is Rs. 1.82 thousand crores compared to Rs. 1.48 thousand crores received by the state during this period. The APOs approved in 2019-20 was Rs.1.48 thousand crores which was same as the fund received in that year. In the ensuing two years, the state has not received any new funds but got approvals for APOs worth Rs. 169 cores each year.
The highest value of approved APOs is for Chhattisgarh. The Rs. 3.69 thousand crores approved APOs make for 61% of the fund CAMPA funds received by the state. Odisha & Madhya Pradesh, which are the among the recipients of most CAMPA funds have value approved APOs at 35.5% and 24.4% of the funds received. Barring very few states, value of approved APOs of most of the states is less than 50% of the value of CAMPA funds received.
Only 27% of CAMPA funds utilised during 2019-20 to 2021-22
In the response in Lok Sabha provided on 03 April 2023, Government of India provided details of the utilization of CAMPA funds by the respective State CAMPAs. The total amount of funds allocated to the States/UTs was Rs. 51.3 thousand crores during the three years from 2019-20 to 2021-22. On the other hand, the total amount of funds utilized as submitted by States/UTs amount to Rs. 13.69 thousand crores, or only about 27 % of the total funds received under CAMPA.
Utilisation by Odisha is the greatest with Rs. 2.07 thousand crores. However, this is only about 1/3rd of the funds received by the State. Gujarat which had APOs more than the funds received, has utilised only about 31% of the funds.
Madhya Pradesh & Maharashtra the other two states which has received the most funds. But their utilisation is only 22.3% and 19.6% respectively. Uttar Pradesh & Karnataka have a better utilisation with 44% and 42.5% respectively. Jharkhand, another state among top-5 has utilised only 16.3% of the funds allocated to it. The details for Ladakh were not provided.
Despite new law, underutilisation of the fund persists
The CAG Report in 2013 highlighted the under cutisation of CAMPA funds. Compensatory Afforestation Fund Act, 2016 and the subsequent CAF rules & guidelines were formulated to improve upon the utilisation of the CAMPA funds. However, the data indicates that there is a huge scope of improvement, and the problem of underutilisation persists despite a new law being in place.
The value of Approved plans itself is less than half of the funds allocated in case of most of the States/UTs. This reduces further when the actual utilisation is considered. The national average utilization is only a 1/3rd of the total funds. Utilization in many states is less than the national average. Even the comparatively better performing states utilised less than half the available funds. With only a negligible increase in the forest cover and threat of deforestation across many of the States, it is imperative that the governments find better ways of proper utilisation of the available funds.