Development funds for green cover loss elude Keonjhar districts
Jul 26, 2012
Source : The Times of India


Keonjhar: Despite collecting more than Rs 1,300 crore from various mines and industries of Keonjhar district, the Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority (CAMPA) has done little for the development of the people and environment of the mineral-rich Keonjhar district.
CAMPA was constituted by the Union ministry of environment and forests for collecting money from mining companies according to the loss of environment and forest cover caused due to mining and industrial activities. The collected fund is supposed to be invested in the development of the affected areas.
The amount of the compensation is to be decided according to the net premium value (NPV) of forest damage, cost of compensatory afforestaion, cost of maintenance of safety zones and cost of regional wild life management plan. There are about 110 mines in the district. Till date, the companies have deposited a total of Rs 1,322 crore to the CAMPA fund through the forest department.
"The fund was collected from different companies against the loss of green cover caused by them. Hence the Union government should spend most part of the amount for the development of the district and for compensating the damage caused by industries. In stead of that, the government is diverting the funds to other districts. Keonjhar suffers from intense air and water pollution and health hazards owing to the presence of so many mines and industries here. Problems like damaged roads, rise in accidents, decline in water table, rise in infant mortality rate are also caused by these industries. Tribal-dominated Joda, Champua, Jhumpura, Banspal and Hatadihi blocks are the worst affected areas. The government should take steps to divert more money from the CAMPA fund to the district's development," said Amarabara Khatua, an ex-Zila Parishad member.
"This fund can be utilized in plantations drives, road construction, protection of forests and wild animals, irrigation or renovation of water bodies, upgrade of drinking water facilities in the affected areas," he added.
Keonjhar DFO Ajay Kumar Jena said, "Recently, we received Rs 10 lakh from the CAMPA fund for upgrading electricity infrastructure in the forests so that elephants don't get electrocuted from coming in contact with low-hanging wires. More money should be spent from the over 1300 crore fund for the overall development of the district and the poor people living here."
Under CAMPA, the rate of compensation for forest loss is calculated according to the density of forest. The company has to deposit about Rs 7 lakh per hectare forest loss. Besides, the amount collected for regional wild life management is Rs 20,000 per hectare, and the cost of maintenance of safety zones is Rs 33,000 per hectare. This apart, the cost of compensatory afforestion is Rs 36,000 per hectare and the cost of afforestation is about 1.5 time of the cost of maintenance of safety zones.
Locals said even people's representatives are not taking up the issue. They also said industrial bodies were not fulfilling their corporate social responsibilities.
Subarna Naik, MLA Keonjhar Sadar, said, "The central government should divert more money from CAMPA fund for the development of the district. This district is suffering from huge damage to environment owing to mining activities. The companies are also not performing periphery development activities as per the rule."
Keonjhar collector Brajakishore Nayak said, "The government should divert funds collected from this area for the development of this district. This district is suffering a lot due to mining activities. Tribals and the poor are suffering most. The companies also should take up CSR activities properly."

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