Soon, citizens planting and nurturing teak, neem, babool and sandalwood trees may get paid by the state government. An expert committee set up to study the concept of 'tree credits' submitted its report to the state government recently. And the government is likely to bring in a Bill for this in the winter session of legislature in December. Officials said the committee has suggested conducting pilot project in a few districts of Marathwada as the concept is new and would take some time to be implemented smoothly. The government wants to encourage people to plant more trees as part of its efforts to increase the forest cover in the state to the mandated 33%.
According to officials, citizens will be able to sell the tree credits to the state at a cost to be decided by the government, taking into account all the expenses like the sapling, labour and maintenance.
Citizens will have to nurture the trees for at least one year in order to get credits. The credits may depend on the kind of trees being planted and increase with the age of the trees. Trees like teak, neem, babool and sandalwood that are sturdy and more effective in absorbing carbon dioxide have been listed under the project.
According to members of the committee, the tree credits will double after 10 years, giving citizens a huge monetary benefit.
Initially, the committee has suggested capping the tree credits to only 200 trees per hectare to prevent any misuse of the scheme. The committee has fixed the credits to be paid in the first year for planting 200 trees in one hectare. The credits will be different for different species of trees.
For instance, Rs 3,500 has been proposed to be paid for 200 sandalwood trees after the first year.
"We have also proposed setting up of a committee under the chief secretary to notify the Act for districts they select and the rate to be paid to the farmers can be revised by them. Everything will be online and a software will be built to apply for tree credits," said a member on the expert committee.
Sudhir Mungantiwar, minister of the forests, said, "Nowhere in the world such a concept exists. We are also trying to work out the legal framework before notifying the Act."