ENVIRONMENTAL FUNDS IN INDIA: AN APPRAISAL
Prof. (Dr.) Sairam Bhat, Professor of Law & Coordinator of CEERA,
Ms. Madhubanti Sadhya, Teaching Associate, CEERA-NLSIU
A number of legislations in the country have made provisions for the establishment of funds to be used either for the protection, preservation or regeneration of the environment or to compensate victims who have suffered as a result of environmental crimes. In addition to legislations, some environment funds have also been established in pursuance of orders of the Judiciary. These environmental funds serve different purposes and have different disbursal and accounting mechanisms. This note explores three environmental funds established in India and their working, namely- the Compensatory Afforestation Fund (CAF), the Environment Relief Fund (ERF) and National and State Biodiversity Fund (NBF and SBF). While there are enough laws, rules and guidelines for ensuring their management, it is highlighted that none of these funds are working efficiently in reality. This note attempts to
find out the reason for the poor implementation of the environmental funds and come up with recommendations for their better implementation. This write-up points out that the ineffective working of CAF may be attributed to lack of penal provisions in the legislation, ineffective monitoring mechanism and lack of utilization of the funds for the purposes for which they are meant for. It further examines the working of the ERF to conclude that systematic databases are not maintained to ensure its working. The note shows the poor functioning of some state biodiversity authorities and their questionable actions of not spending money on building
databases, identification or maintenance of heritage sites and documentation. Some states have not published annual reports on their website because of which it is difficult to analyze their utilization of the fund.
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