BY: JESSICA BEUKER
India is in the midst of a growing industrialization period, and subsequently is suffering from extensive deforestation. The country is also one of the world’s largest greenhouse gas emitters. To combat this, and to bring back green spaces, the Indian government is planning to spend a whopping $6.2 billion on reforesting parts of the country.
The bill, named the Compensatory Afforestation Fund Bill, has been passed by members of the lower house of parliament and is waiting to be passed by the upper house, according to IFLScience. The goal is to increase overall forest cover from 21 per cent of the country’s surface, up to 33 per cent.
Last year, when submitting its Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC), India indicated that they plan to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 35 per cent of its 2005 levels by the year 2030. The new afforestation bill will help the country reach this goal.
The money for the new bill comes from private companies, who over the past 12 years have paid the government to set up projects on forested land. According to Quartz, some experts are skeptical as to whether the project will be carried out effectively.
“There should be a mechanism to monitor that the funds are used correctly,” said Sreedhar Ramamurthi, an earth scientist and management trustee at NGO Environs Trust, to Quartz. “Many a times, forest officials themselves burn down forests when they are pressed for target completion and complain that their work was lost in fires.” Concerns have also been raised over how the government plans to develop forests on alternative land.
It is, however, encouraging to see that the country is serious about funding environmental efforts and seeking out innovative ways to keep their plan of cutting gas emissions by 2030 on track.