States asked to up green cover for sops

With the 15th Finance Commission raising the weightage of forest cover in determining states’ share in the Union tax revenue from 7.5% to 10%, Union environment minister Prakash Javadekar sensitised states about this crucial provision and urged them to work accordingly to get additional incentives by increasing their green cover.

States’ share is arrived at by calculating the share of the dense forest of each state in the aggregate dense forest of all the states – it means states like Arunachal Pradesh, MP, Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra and Odisha will gain more compared to those whose share in total forest cover is less.

The share of Haryana, Punjab, Rajasthan, Bihar, Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh under this criteria is lower compared to the top five.

Javadekar flagged the Commission’s report for the year 2020-21 during a virtual meeting with states’ forest ministers over six key issues relating to increasing green cover in the country.

Noting a tendency among few states to divert money from compensatory afforestation funds for paying salaries and meeting other unrelated expenses including travelling allowances, the minister appealed to states to stick to the provision of spending 80% of this fund “exclusively for afforestation and plantation”.

The concept of giving forests a weightage in determining states’ share in the Union tax revenue was introduced by the 14th Finance Commission.

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