Compensatory Afforestation taken up in a Big Way in Rajasthan : Daily Current Affairs

Date: 24/11/2022

Relevance: GS-3: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.

Key Phrases: Compensatory afforestation, Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management & Planning Authority (CAMPA). Compensatory Afforestation Fund Act 2016, Forest Ecosystem in India.


  • In recent years the Rajasthan government has taken compensatory afforestation in a big way in the areas which are used for non-forestry purposes.
  • This has facilitated plantation of indigenous species as well as the utilization of land for infrastructure development.

Key Highlights:

  • New guidelines have been evolved for utilization of funds of the Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management & Planning Authority (CAMPA).
  • Rajasthan is India’s largest State with about 10.4% of the country’s total area but the State has only 4.86% of its area under the forest cover.
  • State’s forest policy has set the target of bringing a minimum of 6% of its area under the forest cover.
  • An “asset register” of plantation sites for 2011-12 to 2021-22 has been prepared in the State to keep track of afforestation activities.

What is Compensatory Afforestation?

  • Compensatory afforestation means that every time forest land is diverted for non-forest purposes such as mining or industry, the user agency pays for planting forests over an equal area of non-forest land.
  • If such land is not available, twice the area of degraded forest land will have to be compensated.

What is the need for a Compensatory Afforestation Law?

  • With a cover of over 24% of Geographical area of the country, forest in India comprises a number of diverse forest types and reserved areas designated as National Parks and Wildlife Sanctuaries.
  • In India, forests meet the livelihood needs of people living in and adjoining the forests in about 1,73,000 villages and act as carbon sinks and regulators of water regime.
  • Many development and industrial projects such as erection of dams, mining, and construction of industries or roads require diversion of forest land.
  • The Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980 (FCA) governs diversion or use of forest land for non-forest purposes, under the law-
    • A company diverting forest land must provide alternative land for taking up compensatory afforestation.
    • For the afforestation purpose, the company should pay for planting new trees in the alternative land provided to the state.
    • The loss of the forest ecosystem must also be compensated by paying.
  • In 2002, the Supreme Court of India observed that collected funds for afforestation were underutilized by the states and it ordered for central pooling of funds under an ad hoc Compensatory Afforestation Fund.
  • The court had set up the ad hoc National Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority (National CAMPA) to manage the Fund.
  • However, in 2013, a CAG report identified that the funds continued to be underutilized.
  • Therefore to minimize discrepancies and efficient management of funds collected for compensatory afforestation which henceforth were managed by the CAMPA , the Compensatory Afforestation Fund (CAF) Act was enacted.

Compensatory Afforestation Fund Act 2016

  • The Compensatory Afforestation Fund Act seeks to provide an appropriate institutional mechanism, both at the Centre and State levels.
  • Its objective is to ensure expeditious utilization in the efficient and transparent manner of amounts released in lieu of forest land diverted for the non-forest purpose.
  • The CAF Act was passed by the Union government in 2016 and rules under the act were notified in 2018.
  • Key Provisions of the CAF Act,2016
    • The law establishes the National Compensatory Afforestation Fund under the Public Account of India and a State Compensatory Afforestation Fund under the Public Account of each state.
    • These Funds will receive payments for
      • Compensatory afforestation.
      • Net present value of forest (NPV).
      • Other project specific payments.
    • The National Fund will receive 10% of these funds, and the State Funds will receive the remaining 90%.
    • According to the Act’s provision, a company/ organization diverting forest land must provide alternative land to take up compensatory afforestation.
    • For afforestation, the company/ organization should pay to plant new trees in the alternative land provided to the state.

Issues with the CAF Act

  • There has been a constant issue of land availability for planting new forests due to regulatory and administrative reasons.
    • E.g. In 2022, Delhi Development Authority (DDA) had requested the Ministry of Forest and Climate Change many times for alternative land allocation as there was no land available in Delhi for compensatory afforestation.
  • Not a sustainable solution because complex forest systems cannot be recreated easily and take time.
    • Merely providing monetary compensation in many cases has degraded the forest ecosystems as afforestation has not been done in time.
  • CAMPA funds have been used for purchasing forest department vehicles or repairing buildings.
  • Afforestation has been undertaken on the flanks of railway lines, highways, and so on, raising trees with poor survival rates but certainly not creating biodiverse forests

Rajasthan government to fillip the Afforestation

  • Judicious and efficient use of funds in a timely and appropriate manner to protect the forest land and ecosystem.
  • Release of the Asset register and inter-departmental coordination for the afforestation activities.
  • All activities related to CAMPA would be completed in a time-bound manner and action plans for the work would be shortly formulated.
  • Notification had been issued for recording 31,619 hectares of forest land in Udaipur; 16,896 hectares in Chittorgarh; and 3,056 hectares in Alwar district of Rajasthan, in the revenue records.

Way Forward

  • Infrastructure built should include wildlife impact assessments compulsorily.
  • Rather than creating new and artificial forests, existing forest land should be restored and bought by the forest department using the CAMPA funds.
  • Afforestation should be done in areas like forest corridors like in between two tiger reserves and eco-sensitive areas like a riparian or estuarine system.
  • There are critical ecosystems that require attention and funding today, including marine areas, birding areas, riparian and coastal areas, and high altitude grasslands
  • Funds can and should be channelized for conservation of endangered species.


  • The state of Rajasthan despite being the one of the most unsuitable states for afforestation due to its natural geography (nearly 60% desert) has shown that the forest afforestation targets can be achieved with targeted, robust administration and proper oversight to increase the forest area, strengthen biodiversity conservation, and increase afforestation.
  • The rest of the states of the country should take lessons from it and work in tandem with all stakeholders such as the Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC) , ISRO, Union government to conserve our forest ecosystem, achieve the national goal of 33% forested area and for a larger good of humanity.

Source: The Hindu

Mains Question:

Q. The compensatory afforestation law in India has been in the news lately. What is the constitutional position of the compensatory afforestation legislation in India? Discuss the evolution of the law, provisions of the law and shortcomings in the law. Also suggest measures to overcome such challenges with examples. (250 words)