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Centre, States Sitting on Rs 1 Lakh Crore Green Corpus; SC Asks for Spending Plan

The top court has now sought to know how this money is supposed to be utilised while making it clear that governments cannot spend it on construction of roads, colleges, etc since the corpus is specifically meant for environment-related purposes.

Utkarsh Anand | CNN-News18

Updated:April 13, 2018, 10:14 AM IST
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Centre, States Sitting on Rs 1 Lakh Crore Green Corpus; SC Asks for Spending Plan
File Photo of the Supreme Court of India.
New Delhi: The Centre and state governments are sitting over a corpus of Rs 1 lakh crore, collected under various orders passed by the Supreme Court in environmental matters.

The top court has now sought to know how this money is supposed to be utilised while making it clear that governments cannot spend it on construction of roads, colleges, etc since the corpus is specifically meant for environment-related purposes.

The money has been collected under heads such as compensatory afforestation fund, funds for wood-based industries, environment cess and those collected in illegal mining cases.

A bench headed by Justice Madan B Lokur was informed about the estimate of monies collected by Centre and state governments by amicus curiae ADN Rao.

"On a rough estimate given by learned amicus curiae, it appears that there is an amount of up to Rs 1,00,000 crore that is lying with the Government of India and the States and Union Territories under various Heads consequent to orders passed by this Court from time to time," noted the bench.

The court then directed the Secretary in the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change to make a compilation of all the funds and the amount lying in each of those funds as on March 31, 2018.

The Secretary in the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change, the bench said, is directed to give some indication on how the amount of up to Rs 1,00,000 crore is intended to be utilised and "areas where it should not be utilised".

"Considering the huge amount involved, we expect the Secretary to take up the matter very seriously and with due sincerity," said the bench in its order on April 10.

It further sought presence of chief secretaries of Odisha and Meghalaya before the Court on May 9 to explain for their lapses.

The Odisha government collected money through a court-mandated Special Purpose Vehicle for Scheduled Area Development of Lanjigarh Project arising out of mining matters.

The bench noted that a lot of amount is being used for purposes that have nothing to do with the benefit of the people for whom the fund was created.

"...for construction of roads, renovation of colleges, etc. These works are a part of the job of the State Government and the money collected which was expected to be used for the benefit of the people cannot be used for these purposes," maintained the bench.

Similarly, in case of Meghalaya, the court noted that the affidavit was very casually drafted and it gave an indication that the money was simply kept in a bank account instead of using it for welfare of people.

The bench therefore has summoned the chief secretaries of both the states.

The bench had in December sought an estimate of the funds collected by the governments under its orders and the manner of utilising it. Rao adduced the estimate pursuant to this order.

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| Edited by: Ahona Sengupta
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