Environment ministry slammed for failing to implement green schemes


New Delhi : The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) Friday slammed the environment ministry for failing to meet its main objectives of afforestation, conservation of biodiversity, pollution control and spreading awareness among the people.

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The CAG report tabled in parliament pointed at the misutilisation of funds allotted under various environmental schemes and found that in a majority of projects, targets were not achieved.

The audit done for the period April 2008-March 2009 highlights issues relating to the adequacy and effectiveness of programmes, schemes and interventions made by the ministry to tackle important environmental issues like deforestation, biodiversity and pollution control.

The report also contained 37 specific recommendations, which according to CAG, will enable the executive to take corrective action as also frame policies and directives that will lead to improved environmental governance.

The audit found that the National Afforestation and Eco-Development Board (NAEB) released Rs.47.03 crore to voluntary agencies and state forest departments (SFDs) for implementing 647 afforestation projects.

“More than 93 percent of the projects did not achieve their targeted objectives, thereby seriously impacting the efforts to increase the tree cover,” it said.

Giving specific examples, the CAG report said that NAEB released Rs.64 lakh to three Forest Development Agencies (FDA) in Goa under the national afforestation programme for treating 1,250 hectares of degraded land. The report found that only 85 hectares of land was treated.

The report said that the National Biodiversity Authority (NBA) set up by the ministry in 2003 has failed miserably in conserving biodiversity as the authority’s efforts in identifying threatened, endangered and endemic species and recommending guidelines for their conservation was only done in seven out of 28 states.

Auditing the pollution control measures taken by the ministry, the CAG found that the Central Pollution Control Board’s (CPCB) ‘ecocity programme’ to improve environment in six cities in the country remained incomplete.

“The project was initiated at a cost of Rs.30 crore under Tenth Five Year Plan. Works undertaken under the programme remained incomplete in all six selected cities and Rs. 1.88 crore was lying unspent with state pollution control boards for over seven years,” it said.

The CAG recommended that environmnet ministry should strengthen the project implemntation mechanism and its control mechanism, so that it can effectively achieve its objectives.