On January 09, 2020 the Forest Advisory Committee (FAC) which is an apex body that considers questions on the diversion of forest land for non-forest uses such as mining, industrial projects, townships etc and also issues granting of forest clearances has approved Green Credit Scheme that would allow forests to be traded as a commodity.Green Credit scheme:
i.Agencies identifying lands: The scheme allows agencies like private companies, village forest communities etc to identify lands for forest cultivation and ensures plantations are grown.
ii.Compensatory forest land: After 3 years, these identified lands would be considered as compensatory forest land after meeting forest department’s criteria.
iii.Industry approaching agencies: An industry that needs forest land could approach these agencies and pay them for such forested land. This would then be transferred to the forest department & also recorded as forest land.
FAC approval to trade forest as commodity:
i.Scheme implementation: If this scheme is implemented, the forest department will be allowed to outsource one of its responsibilities of reforesting to non-government agencies.
ii.Current system:In the current system the industry should find appropriate non forest land equal to that which would be razed for industrial purposes.
iii.Payment: The economic equivalent of the forest land called Net Present Value (NPV) should also be paid to the state forest department.
iv.Statistics: Nearly ₹50,000 crore had been collected by the Centre over decades, but the funds were unspent because states did not regrow forests. After Supreme Court’s (SC’s) intervention it was found that about ₹47,000 crore had been disbursed to States until August 2019.
v.Previously in 2015, a ‘Green Credit Scheme’ for degraded forest land with public-private participation was recommended. But it wasn’t approved by the Minister of Environment, Forest and Climate Change(MoEFCC), who is the final authority.
About Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change(MoEFCC):
Headquarters- New Delhi
Union minister- Shri Prakash Javadekar.
Minister of State(MoS)- Babul Supriyo.
Secretary- Chandra Kishore Mishra.