Has the Time for Green Bonus Come?

Meeting in Dehradun demanded Green Bonus and Ganga Bonus

Meeting| Ecology| Uttarakhand| Ganga| Forest| Country

A meeting was held in October 2019 under the auspicious of Centre Ecology Development and Research to consider the demand of Uttarakhand for “Green Bonus” and “Ganga Bonus”. Basic point is that Uttarakhand is having a large amount of forest cover also River Ganga. The Resolution passed at the meeting can be seen here. These forests and the Ganga are providing benefits to the while country while the cost of their conservation is borne by Uttarakhand. In order to help Uttarakhand conserve these resources it is necessary that the States that are getting the benefits pay an amount to Uttarakhand to conserve the forests and the Ganga.

Supreme Court| Godavarman| Forest| Political| Holistic| Madhya Pradesh| Himalayan States

The Supreme Court had mentioned in the Godavarman case that the forest deficit states should pay to forest surplus states.

The Supreme Court is considering protection of forests in the Godavarman Case

According to Supreme Court order in Godavarman case, “The political boundaries are drawn for various considerations but as far as the environment is concerned one has to take a holistic view and even though the national average of the forest cover is low, even that low figure is there because of the higher percentage of the forest cover in the hill states and in the state of Madhya Pradesh and in North Eastern States.” This observation was made in an application by state of Madhya Pradesh to Supreme Court saying that they should be compensated for the high area under the forest. Supreme Court accepted in that position to that application. Uttarakhand or any other Himalayan sates did not apply to the Court for this.

Madhya Pradesh has asked for Forest Bonus in the Supreme Court

The visible green area in map shows the forest cover in state of Madhya Pradesh

Government| Supreme Court| Forest cover

The Supreme Court order continued: “In order to ensure the preservation and regeneration of forests in these areas, the Central Government should consider whether the deficient states should not be asked to contribute towards the preservation of the existing forest cover”. The Supreme Court observed that the deficient states who do not have enough forest cover should be ask to pay to the states who have the higher forest cover area. Supreme Court directly said that the deficient states should pay.

Tamil Nadu, Bihar, Rajasthan, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Delhi, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Orrisa, Gujrat, Panjab, West Bengal and Andhra Pradesh

Then the Supreme Court asked a Secretary of Committee to look into the possibility. However, “the committee of secretaries informed the court that there is no consensus amongst the states on the point in issue, while some of the states have welcomed the idea. The committee has discussions with representatives of various state Governments but about twelve states which are deficient in forest cover expressed their reservation in accepting the suggestion of the court. These states are Tamil Nadu, Bihar, Rajasthan, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Delhi, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Orrisa, Gujrat, Panjab, West Bengal and Andhra Pradesh. So the deficient states did not agree, which is expected.

Then the Supreme Court has asked to Union of India to consider paying this. That is where the matters stands after 18 years.

Ganga| Uttarakhand| ecological| spiritual| Hydropowers| Benifits

The same logic applies to the Ganga River. Uttarakhand is foregoing its benefits from the development of hydropower projects in order to maintain the ecological and spiritual values of the Ganga.  The benefits of these ecological and spiritual values are obtained by the people of the country or even the entire world.

Uttarakhand should get Ganga Bonus along with Green Bonus

Therefore, just as the forest deficient states should be required to pay amounts to the surplus states, similarly those states who are benefitting the Ganga should pay money to Uttarakhand to compensate for the benefits foregone from the Hydropower.