Wednesday, July 23, 2014

PD Rai stresses need for action plan to address climate change in NER

Press Secretary
Office of PD Rai, Lok Sabha MP for Sikkim

Sikkim Lok Sabha MP PD Rai has urged the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change to prepare a white paper to address specific concerns arising out of climate change in the North-Eastern region. Speaking at the Parliamentary Debate on Demand for Grants relating to the Ministry in the Lok Sabha, Rai highlighted the political and economic impacts of climate change in the region. He also mentioned the steps taken by the Sikkim Government to address the issue.
Rai informed the House about the potential impact of climate change on agricultural yield in the North-Eastern region, particularly Sikkim’s North District, where impact is expected to be the highest in the region according to scientific studies. He also raised concerns over the reduction in budgetary allocation for North-Eastern region from Rs. 191 crore in the Interim Budget to about Rs. 181 crore in the current Budget.
Welcoming the new National Mission on Himalayan Studies - for promoting research for sustainable development of the Himalayan region - he expressed hope that the Centre will address both climate change and developmental issues in the region. He also highlighted the importance of forestry research in addressing climate change issues. He raised concerns over the low budgetary support for Indian Council for Forestry Research and Education, an institution of national importance. He said that lack of funding has adversely
Impacted the research output of the institution. He stressed the need for enhancing budgetary allocation to enable the institution to undertake new research projects for the rejuvenation of forests.
Furthermore, he highlighted the need for policy level intervention to specify the norms for forest cover for States in the country. He said that such a policy will enable States with high forest cover to undertake developmental initiatives.

Measures to Address Climate Change: Ideas from Sikkim – “Ten Minutes to Earth”
Rai apprised the House of the steps taken by the government of Sikkim to address climate change. He urged the nation to adopt the “Ten Minutes to Earth” program which was institutionalized in Sikkim by Chief Minister Pawan Chamling. The initiative, based on the concept of “One Person, One Tree, One Time”, has resulted in plantation of six lakh saplings of trees and flowering species within 10 minutes across the State every year since 2009.

Need for Amendment in Indian Forest Act to Promote Bamboo Industry
Outlining the importance of bamboo, Rai urged the Minister for Environment and Forests Prakash Javadekar to amend the Forest Act and list Bamboo as a grass. He said the amendment will lead to an improvement in the cultivation of bamboo.
Rai has been constantly pitching for the reclassification of bamboo as a grass and had even introduced a bill for the amendment of the Indian Forest Act in the Lok Sabha in 2013. He has argued that the change will provide steady and sustainable source of livelihood for millions of tribal and rural inhabitants in the North-Eastern region, particularly Sikkim.

Minister for Environment, Forests and Climate Change Recognizes Importance of Issues
Raised by Sikkim CM Pawan Chamling and MP PD Rai

Minister of Environment, Forests and Climate Change Prakash Javadekar welcomed the suggestions made by Rai and other members during the debate. He said that the Himalayan Mountain Initiative, raised by Rai, is an important issue for the nation. He said that the nation should work toward sustainable development of the Himalayan region. He informed the House that the Ministry has approved all seven eco-sensitive zone projects in Sikkim. He also apprised the House of his meeting with Sikkim CM Pawan Chamling and stated that the government had commenced work on the eco-sensitive projects from 20th July.