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Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist)
Saturday, 02 December 2017 11:26

RESIST CAMPA AND ITS NEW AVATAR CAF - Adhoc Committee, Adivasi Bharat Mahasabha

CAMPA (Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority) was an ad-hoc body created by the Supreme Court in 2002 to address concerns related to deforestation resulting out of diversion of forest land for development. This was followed by the Report of the expert committee on NPV (net present value) in 2005, which was given the task of outlining an architecture to integrate this with the CAMPA. On 10th July 2009 orders were passed by the Supreme Court to give shape to this body. 

Instead of addressing the concerns of the Supreme Court, which required that funds meant for Compensatory afforestation be used for the purpose they were generated, the Government in its wisdom used the ploy of huge unspent funds under CAMPA (estimates put it at around Rs 50,000 crores) to hurriedly pass CAF ( Compensatory Afforestation Fund) last year. However till now the Act has not been notified (pending the guidelines), informed sources point to serious contradictions within the Act itself including the failure to address the concerns of the Supreme Court as one of the major reasons for the delay.

In practice, CAMPA fund legitimises forest diversion and provides a monetary excuse for Forest and biodiversity loss caring a whit for the loss of livelihood opportunities of the local community. There is no credible information about what has been planted up under CAMPA and where. 

The proposition that forest cover is increasing is a hoax. The State of Forest reports a forest cover of 21.34% including tea, coffee and rubber plantations (green cover of more than 10% on an area of .5 has is recorded).  Forest Land on the other hand is 23.41%. Plantations are not forests. There is an International movement against monocultures. In Uttrakhand for instance the replacement of broad leaved oak forests with pine has resulted in severe damage to the ecology affecting the livelihood of livestock owners and impacting the perenniality of the streams and springs in the region. Frequent landslides and forest fires are among the other impacts as well.  

CAMPA is meant to compensate for loss of forests but it is also being shown as a mechanism to increase the forest cover of this country. The fund of $6 b is being used by the Government to show its financial commitment for GIM and RED + as well. In its new avatar, CAF is a violation of FRA. CAMPA money will be used for relocation of people from Tiger Reserves.  VSS under JFM is being equated with gram sabha and FD muscle power and money power is being used against the people (arms and ammunition are being procured in the name of Wild life protection Act).  In short FRA is to be systematically undermined.

In the whole process Natural Capital is sought to be taken over and goods and services from the forest traded on the International market. The Kanchan Chopra report for transferring funds to the village communities has been ignored. Diversion of forest is against Section 39 B of the Forest Conservation Act 1980. The related compensatory activity has not taken place; it is proving to be a game to deal with the ‘politics of sustainability’.  

Even though India is a signatory to UNRIP (United Nations Rights of Indigenous people’s) and FPIC (Free Prior Informed Consent), the accountability for implementation is at the Nation level due to sovereignty issues. Sub Nationality questions are not addressed. 

Case studies from Odisha highlight the atrocities being unleashed on the forest dwellers as a result of CAMPA (in one case a pregnant woman lost her child as a result of the shock of being dragged out of the forest). A case study from Gujarat shows how Surat is facing floods every year due to the destruction of the mangroves, choking of the estuary at the mouth of the Tapti and the resultant ingress of seawater into Surat. The barrage on Tapti on the other hand prevents the flood waters reaching the sea and bathes Surat instead!  Compensatory forest land asked for the cutting of the mangrove forests to make way for Hazira SEZ expansion was given in Porbandar. Since there were no mud flats there to hold the plants, every year plantation gets washed into the sea.       

The concept that ‘development is necessary’, and hence forest diversion a corollary is counter factual. Experiences from across the country show that recent advances in renewable energy make it possible to go for a decentralised development paradigm which does not require the kind of funds that make it necessary to roll out the red carpet to Corporate investors and provide them land on a platter. 

The need of the hour is to create awareness across the country about the detrimental effects of CAMPA and its new avatar CAF. The adhoc committee of the Adivasi Bharat Mahasabha studied the draft prepared by the Akhil Bharatiya Mazdoor Kisan Sangharsh Samiti, and has decided to issue it as a call to all forest dwellers and forest dependent communities to rise as one to force govt. to withdraw this anti people law.

Adhoc Committee, Adivasi Bharat Mahasabha n


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