The Himalayan states on Sunday came together at a conclave in Mussoorie to demand a separate Union ministry to deal with problems endemic to them and a green bonus in recognition of their contribution to environmental conservation.
This was for the first time that the Himalayan states came on a single platform to take a unanimous stand on these issues.
Both the demands formed a part of a common agenda of the Himalayan states and a proposal in this regard was handed over to Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman at the end of the conclave, who also inaugurated the one-day Himalayan conclave.
The Indian Himalayan Region (IHR) is spread over 12 states including Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Tripura, Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim and the hilly districts of West Bengal, and Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Jammu and Kashmir.
"Green Bonus" refers to financial assistance which is to be given for the effort made by a country, state or community for the preservation of green cover.
Explaining the rationale behind the demand for a green bonus, Uttarakhand chief minister Trivendra Singh Rawat said most of the country's rivers originate in the Himalayas and therefore the states have to play the most significant role in the prime minister's water conservation initiative.
The states were also at a disadvantage because large swathes of land fell into eco-sensitive zones where all sorts of development activities could not be carried out, Rawat said.
As a 2013 report by the Planning Commission points out, the benefits of this green cover are not restricted to these regions, but "are shared with the country at large."
The Himalayan states had argued that it is not appropriate to apply the same yardsticks while considering central assistance to the states which have a large forest cover. Hence, according to them, they should be given some kind of compensation in form of a “green bonus”.
In the Planning Commission report, it was pointed out that the states have also argued that they are supplying “public goods” by having the burden of protecting and preserving forests and water sources, in disproportionate measures compared to other states.
States most vulnerable to climate change
An IndiaSpend report has quoted a study which states that out of India’s 12 Himalayan states, Assam, Mizoram and Jammu and Kashmir are the most vulnerable to climate change. According to it, increased vulnerability leaves these areas with low capacity to anticipate, resist, cope with or recover from the impact of a climate hazard or change.
Around 50 million Indian reside in the IHR, the IndiaSpend report points out. In these regions, glaciers feed up to 70 percent of agriculture. With climate change affecting the Himalayan landscape and weather patterns causing longer summers and shorter winters, the livelihoods and survival of these communities are threatened, the report adds.
The study titled 'Climate Vulnerability Assessment for the Indian Himalayan Region Using a Common Framework' was conducted by the Indian Institutes of Technology (IIT) at Mandi and Guwahati and the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) at Bengaluru.
Updated Date: Jul 29, 2019 17:14:06 IST