West Bengal (area 88,752 sq km) is the only Indian state to have a Coast line as well as the Himalayas and is situated between 21o20’ and 27o32’N latitude and 85o50’ 89o52’E longitude. The state of West Bengal has a recorded forest area of 11,879 sq km. The forest areas are classified into three categories –
i) Reserved Forest with an area of 7054 ha.
(ii) Protected Forests with an area of 3772 sq km &
(iii) Unclassed State Forest with an area of 1053 sq. km. The forest cover includes both notified forest area and afforestation created outside forest and is 21.35% of the geographical area of the state. In order to meet the demand of forest produce and to increase the forest and tree cover, besides laying efforts for afforestation works through social forestry, farm forestry, agro forestry, community forestry, afforestation on wasteland, panchayat land, Compensatory Afforestation through West Bengal CAMPA is one of the important component.
Compensatory Afforestation Fund management and Planning Authority (CAMPA is 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 the orders of the Hon’ble Supreme Court with the following mandate:
Regularly monitor and evaluate, in consultation with States, projects being undertaken by West Bengal State CAMPAs.
Facilitate scientific, technological and other assistance that may be required by West Bengal State CAMPAs.
Make recommendations to West Bengal State CAMPA based on review of their plans and programmes.
Provide a mechanism to West Bengal State CAMPAs to resolve issues of an inter-state or Centre-State character.
Shall have the powers to order special inspection and financial audit of works executed by the West Bengal State CAMPA by utilizing CAMPA money.
The Hon’ble Supreme Court also approved the guidelines prepared by the MoEF for utilizing CAMPA funds by an agency to be constituted in the states and to be known as the West Bengal State CAMPA. These guidelines were notified by the MoEF, Government of India on 2nd July, 2009.
Some of the important points in the guidelines are:
The West Bengal State CAMPA would presently receive funds collected from user agencies towards compensatory afforestation, additional compensatory afforestation, penal compensatory afforestation, Net Present Value (NPV) and all other amount recovered from such agencies under the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980 and presently lying with the Adhoc CAMPA.
Lay down broad guidelines for West Bengal State CAMPA and utilize the funds collected for undertaking compensatory afforestation, assisted natural regeneration, conservation and protection of forests, infrastructure development, wildlife conservation and protection.
Facilitate scientific, technological and other assistance that may be required by West Bengal State CAMPA and other related activities and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.
West Bengal State CAMPA would provide an integrated framework for utilizing multiple sources for funding and activities relating to protection and management of forests and wildlife.
Its prime task would be regenerating natural forests and building up the institution engaged in this work in the State Forest Department including training of the forest officials of various levels with an emphasis on training of the staff at cutting edge level.
The guidelines also talk about establishment of an independent system for concurrent monitoring and evaluation of the works implemented in the States utilizing the funds available shall be evolved and implemented to ensure effective and proper utilization of funds.
The West Bengal State CAMPA would administer the amount received from the Adhoc CAMPA.
West Bengal State CAMPA shall seek to promote:
Conservation, protection, regeneration and management of existing natural forests.
Conservation, protection and management of wildlife and its habitat within and outside protected areas including the consolidated of the protected areas.
Environmental services, which include:-
Provision of goods such as wood, non-timber forest products, fuel, fodder and water, and provision of services such as grazing tourism, wildlife protection and life support.
Regulating services such as climate regulation, disease control, ood moderation, detoxification, carbon sequestration and health of soils, air and water regimes; (forest range level). In short, the department would be modernized to protect and regenerate the forests and wildlife habitat.
Non-material benefits obtained from ecosystems, spiritual, recreational, aesthetic, inspirational, educational and symbolic; and.
Supporting such other services necessary for the production of ecosystem services, biodiversity, nutrient cycling and primary production, Research, training and capacity building.
The Functions of West Bengal State CAMPA shall include, inter alia.
Funding, overseeing and promoting compensatory afforestation done in lieu of diversion of forest land for non-forestry use under the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980.
Overseeing forest and wildlife conservation and protection works within forest areas undertaken and financed under the programme.
Maintaining a separate account in respect of the funds received from conservation and protection of Protected Areas.
Creating transparency for the programme and mobilizing citizen support; and.
Earmarking up to two percent of the funds for monitoring and evaluation.
The WB State CAMPA shall be the custodian of the Compensatory Afforestation Fund.
In pursuance to the guidelines on West Bengal State CAMPA issued by MoEF, GOI dated 02nd July, 2009 and subsequent letter No. 5-1/2009-FC dt. 21.07.2009 from the Director General of Forests and Special Secretary, MoEF, GOI, West Bengal State CAMPA has been formed.