"Chopping Down Trees in India" FAQ

"Chopping Down Trees in India" FAQ

Q: What is the genesis of Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority (CAMPA) and the Compensatory Afforestation Fund (CAF)?

A: When forest land is cleared for non-forest uses like residential, commercial, mining and industrial purposes, an equivalent area of non-forest land or double the degraded forest land has to be taken up and forested. This is called compensatory afforestation or CA. Undertaking this kind of plantation is a condition laid down by the Indian government while approving proposals for de-reservation or diversion of forest land. The private or public entity executing the project which requires cutting down a forest then has to pay for compensating it by depositing money into a fund but the actual CA is undertaken by the local forest department. 

However it was found that the money collected towards CA was under-utilized by the state governments. Therefore, the Supreme Court of India in 2001 ordered the institution of a  CAF and CAMPA. Such funds were deposited in a separate bank account and an ad-hoc authority was established for the management of these funds. In 2016, the government enacted the CAF Act and, after its rules were formalized in 2018, an amount of Rs 54,685 crore from this ad-hoc authority was brought under government control. India now has a formal authority which manages this fund and disburses it to states which simply goes by the name CAMPA. 

Q: What is the Forest Rights Act of India?

A: The Forest Rights Act (FRA), 2006 recognizes the rights of the forest-dwelling tribal communities and other traditional forest dwellers to forest resources. These communities have always been dependent on forests for livelihood, habitation and other socio-cultural needs. It has been hailed as a step to correct the historic injustice meted out to tribal people and forest dwellers in India. As a result of the act, communities have a right to claim ownership of plots they have been farming for generations. There is a process laid down in the Act to formally recognzse these rights by way of individual or community titles. 

Q: What are India’s SC/ST/OBC caste categories? 

A: The Constitution of India prescribes that the Scheduled Tribes or ST are such tribes or tribal communities as are deemed under Article 342 of the Constitution, understood in terms of their historical background of backwardness. Primitiveness, geographical isolation, shyness and social, educational and economic backwardness due to these reasons are the traits that distinguish Scheduled Tribe communities from other communities.

A section of people in the Indian society were denied certain basic rights since ancient times with the result they remained economically, socially and educationally backward. Because of the fundamental disparities between the SC, STs as compared to other communities and the urgent need for special measures to uplift their status, a clear distinction has been made in the Constitution itself and it provides for their protection and promotion of their interests to bridge the disparities and to bring them at par with other sections of the society. 

Other Backward Classes means any socially and educationally backward classes of citizens as declared by the government. 

Q: What is gram sabha?

A: The gram sabha is a body consisting of persons registered in the electoral rolls of a village. Anyone who is 18 years old or older and who has the right to vote is a member of the gram sabha. It monitors and administers the crucial tasks related to the growth and structuring of the village, such as implementing government schemes, maintaining records, and ensuring the welfare of the village.

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