SOIRU VELIP | NT
Putting aside its bitterness over the Mhadei river battle, Karnataka has agreed to help Goa in carrying out compensatory afforestation of degraded forestlands in its Dharwad and Belgavi districts.
Responding positively to the request made by the state government, Karnataka has shown willingness to allocate degraded forestlands in Dharwad and Belagavi districts for carrying out compensatory afforestation on behalf of Goa.
This magnanimity of Karnataka has surprised many people given the embittered ties between the two neighbouring states over the Mhadei water dispute.
This arrangement between the two states stipulates that the state government will spend money on compensatory afforestation in Dharwad and Belagavi districts of the neighbouring state.
On November 12, 2019, Goa Chief Secretary Parimal Rai had written a letter to his Karnataka counterpart seeking allotment of forestlands and undertaking compensatory afforestation on behalf of Goa.
A similar letter had also been written by principal chief conservator of forests of Goa Subhash Chandra to the Karnataka forest department.
Principal chief conservator of forests of Karnataka Punati Sridhar has written back to Rai informing him about the availability of degraded forestlands in Karnataka for undertaking compensatory afforestation.
The Goa government had requested Karnataka to confirm the availability of about 800.00 hectares of degraded forestlands in Karnataka for raising compensatory afforestation in lieu of forestlands to be diverted in Goa, and requested to “furnish the willingness” in this regard, said a letter from the Karnataka principal chief conservator of forest.
“In this connection, it is to inform your kind self that degraded forestland in Dharwad and Belagavi districts of our state is available for the purpose and the Karnataka forest department is willing to carry
out compensatory afforestation on behalf of the state of Goa as per the provision of the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980,” Sridhar said in the letter sent to Rai on November 20, 2019.
The Karnataka government has further said the details of the degraded forestlands will be given to the principal chief conservator of forests of Goa in due course of time.
In August 2019, the state government received Rs 238.16 crore from the central government under the Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority Fund.
While disbursing the fund, Union Minister of Environment, Forests and Climate Change Prakash Javadekar had clearly instructed the 27 states, including Goa, to utilise the CAMPA fund towards forestry activities to achieve the objectives of the nationally-determined contributions for increasing its forest and tree cover, which aims to create an additional carbon sink equivalent to 2.5 to 3 billion tonne of carbon dioxide by the year 2030.
Javadekar had also stressed that the CAMPA fund cannot be used for payment of salaries, travelling allowances, medical expenses, etc.
It is pertinent to note here that Goa had received funds under CAMPA on four occasions. However, they were never utilised for the purpose.
According to the available data, Goa received Rs 12.11 crore in 2009-10, Rs 10.24 crore in 2010-11, Rs 8.55 crore in 2011-12 and Rs 6.50 crore in 2013-14.
However, the funds have never been used for afforestation in the state.