Jammu and Kashmir government has modified the rules for usage of funds under Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority (CAMPA), barring the forest department from utilising the money under the scheme in construction of zoos, wildlife safaris, foreign tours.
According to sources, CAMPA was set up in the state 2009 to compensate the loss to environment due to after felling of trees.
"Under Jammu and Kashmir Forest Conservation Act, 1997, forest land is approved for developmental works only if no other viable alternative is available and for each tree felled, 20 trees have to be planted under CAMPA to compensate for the loss. But there has been a practice to divert CAMPA funds for other activities," sources told Greater Kashmir.
They added that projects were sanctioned on forest land only after the payment of CAMPA funds by concerned agency to the Forest department mainly for afforestation purposes, which was hardly taken up due to callous approach.
Sources said in the current year (2018-19), government planned to cover 4738 hector forest area with new saplings and 5757 hectare is proposed to be covered in 2019-20, which triggered the need of new rules for CAMPA funds, so that the money won't be misused.
Under the new rules, the department is barred from establishment, expansion and up-gradation of zoo and wildlife safari with CAMPA funds.
There is restriction on payment of salary, travelling allowances, medical expenses to regular, contractual and casual employees of the State Forest Department by CAMPA funds.
The officials are also barred from undertaking foreign visits, paying for legal services for defending cases filed in Tribunals or Courts, purchase of vehicles and machines for the State Forest Department from these funds.
Restriction is also imposed on construction of residential and official buildings for officers above the Forest Range Officer of the State Forest Department for implementing programmes in various forest divisions undertaken from the State Fund.
Leasing, hiring and purchase of land for afforestation purposes, purchase of furniture, office equipment, fixtures including air conditioners and generator sets for residences and offices is also redistricted under the new rules.