DEMAND FOR EFFECTIVE STEPS TO ENSURE COMPENSATORY AFFORESTATION
Environment, Forests and Climate Change
SHRI AMAR PATNAIK (Odisha):Sir, compensatory afforestation is one is of the conditions stipulated by the Central Government while approving proposals for diverting the use of forest land under the Forest Act. In 2019, the Government released Rs.47,436 crore to States for compensatory afforestation. Implementation of these projects is crucial. Forests serve an additional utility of trapping and storing vast reserves of atmospheric carbon dioxide as 'carbon sinks'. Under Article 4 of the Paris Agreement, as part of its intended nationally determined contributions, India had pledged to create an additional carbon sink of 2.5 to 3 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent through additional forest cover by the 2030. The Government can leverage afforestation activities to meet its target while addressing statutory forest conservation requirements. This is vital as atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration has reached a global level 413 particles per million against earth's historical average of 280 particles per million. In normal circumstances, this practice is taken up over an equivalent area of non-forest land. However, this does not compensate the ecological loss, damage to water resources and soil erosion. As per recent data released by Ministry of Environment, seven States had no compensatory afforestation activities for 'non-forest land' approved in the year 2018-19. Eight States did not have any such projects approved on 'degraded forest land'. I demand that the Government introduce both incentives and punitive measures to ensure afforestation is taken up by all States, the compensatory afforestation requirement be raised to two times of diverted forest land in specific cases of significant ecological degradation, and biospheric restoration be concurrently taken up. Thank you, Sir.