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    Forests for business?

    EnvironmentAnimals and wildlifeForests for business?
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    Forests for business?

    Environmentalists see the government applying two different standards on the issue of monetising forests and disturbing wildlife for industrialisation on the one hand, and prime minister Modi’s commitments at the Glasgow CPO26.

    India’s minister of minister of state for environment, forest and climate change, Ashwini Kumar Choubey, on Monday informed the Lok Sabha that “there is no incidences of non-existence of plantation raised under CAMPA fund reported so far.”

    CAMPA, or the Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority (CAMPA) monitors the afforestation to compensate for diversion of forest land for industrial projects like mining, making dams or constructing industries or other infrastructure.

    According to the latest India state of forest report, forests cover about 25 per cent of India’s geographical area, up from 24.16 per cent in 2015. This area is not entirely of natural forests, the area of which has been dwindling. A national afforestation programme and the national mission for a green India complement compensatory afforestation (under CAMPA).

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    But afforestation cannot compensate for lost natural forests cover, environmentalists argue.

    Single-form clearances

    Earlier, while presenting the budget on 1 February, finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman spoke of the government’s commitment to transiting to clean and green energy and climate change.

    They feel that by opening the doors for business to obtain forest clearances through the use of a single form, the finance minister is being oblivious of the biodiversity act of 2002 in its present form.

    “The finance minister’s proposals for single-form clearances for ease of doing business is contrary to her climate concerns and commitments,” said the Centre for Science and Environment through its website, Down To Earth.

    Environmentalists argue that India’s forests are a repository of bio-diversity and the State needs to do more to preserve this. Besides, forests also meet the livelihood and food and nutrition requirements of people living inside the forests or in adjoining areas. Forests also act as carbon sinks and regulators of water regime.

    Biodiversity law to be amended

    But, a proposed amendment to the existing biodiversity law intends to monetise the biodiversity. It intends to “simplify patent application process and widen the scopes of levying access and benefit sharing with local communities and for further conservation of biological resources.”

    Environmentalists see the government applying two different standards on the issue of monetising forests and disturbing wildlife for industrialisation on the one hand, and prime minister Modi’s commitments at the Glasgow CPO26.

    Centre for Science and Environment points to the similarity in the language of the finance minister and the minister to environment and forests. It says, “The Union Budget mentions climate commitments while opening the door for ease of doing business. The amendments mention biological conservation while proposing to open India’s biodiversity for the floodgates of commercial investments.”

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