India is taking some drastic measures to increase its forest game – and it’s pretty impressive (and expensive).
The Narendra Modi government plans to drop a cool $6.2 billion to increase the country’s greenery with a bill called the Compensatory Afforestation Fund Bill. The project aims to increase India’s forest cover from 21.34 per cent of the total land to 33 per cent.
The bill has been passed by lawmakers in India’s lower house this week and is currently waiting to be passed by the upper house.
As for the cash, it comes from the fee paid by various private companies and other entities to the Indian government since 2006 for allowing them to implement projects on forest land. The bill proposes that the state governments be provided 90 per cent of the accumulated funds. The remaining will be kept with the central government.
“Our forest cover will dramatically increase and it will result in achieving our target of 33 per cent of tree cover and most importantly 2.5 billion tonne of carbon sink as we have indicated in our intended nationally determined contributions (INDC),” said India’s environment minister, Prakash Javedekar.
Apparently nobody will be displaced in the process, and, aside from exotic plants, the focus will be on native species.
The progressive project is not without its critics, who point to the need to monitor that the funds are used correctly. Others say that the authority will offer little impact on forestland thanks to the irreversible damage that already exists.
As Quartz highlights, there are also concerns over how exactly the government will develop forests on alternate land. In a 2013 report, India’s comptroller and auditor general (CAG) highlights the environment ministry’s failure to grow forests on such land.
At the moment, it’s not clear how exactly the government will develop these forests. But, hey, at least the intention is there, right?