Srinagar, Oct 1: The Comptroller and Auditor General of India has questioned poor performance of Jammu & Kashmir authorities under the National Afforestation Programme.
A performance audit of the NAP for the period between 2011-12 to 2016-17 has brought to fore that programme implementation had suffered in J&K due to non-observance of guidelines and deviation from the objectives during execution of various activities and there was shortfall in achievement of targets under plantation.
“The overall forest cover to geographical area in the State decreased from 16.09 per cent in 2009 to 15.78 per cent in 2015. Against target of 66 per cent of geographical area in hills of the State to be covered under forest and tree cover as per National Forest Policy 1988, only 24.02 per cent was under forest and tree cover, leaving a shortfall of 41.98 per cent of the envisaged goal,” reads the report which was tabled in the Parliament last week, a copy of which is with the news agency—Kashmir News Observer (KNO).
The NAP was formulated in the 10th Five Year Plan by merging four Centrally Sponsored Afforestation Schemes of the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change. Its objectives include sustainable development and management of forest resources, increase and/ or improvement of Forest and Tree Cover (FTC).
According to the CAG report, seven Forest Development Agencies could not be brought under the ambit of the programme by the State Forest Development Agency during 2010-17, despite the fact that five of them had formulated and submitted their plans costing Rs 37.59 crore to the State Forest Development Agency which was not forwarded to the National Afforestation and Eco-Development Board.
It also states that Receipt of funds from the National Afforestation and Eco-Development Board by the State Forest Development Agency were allocated disproportionately to Forest Development Agencies.
“Against release of Rs 4.44 crore by the National Afforestation and Eco-Development Board to the State Forest Development Agency for 15 Forest Development Agencies, only Rs 1.80 crore were released (2013-14), whereas against release of Rs 5.46 crore for nine Forest Development Agencies, Rs 9.23 crore were released,” it states.
According to the report, funds to the tune of Rs 24.46 crore were retained by the State Forest Development Agency up to 265 days and further there was delay in release of Rs 6.30 crore up to 681 days by the Forest Development Agencies to Village Forest Committees.
“Neither five-year perspective plans nor annual plan of operations were prepared by the Forest Development Agencies. Only Annual Works Programme of the forest territorial area were prepared and Forest Committees/ potential village members,” it reads. (KNO)