September 22, 2017, Aizawl: The Sixth Edition of the Sustainable Mountain Development Summit organized by the Integrated Mountain Initiative annually, concluded at Aizawl on the 22nd September. The three- day long Summit was a platform for discussion and brainstorming of ideas and solutions for issues surrounding its two major themes- Climate Change and Sustainable Mountain Cities. A Meet of the Legislators from across the Indian Himalayan States held under the aegis of the Summit was a grand success.
The Meet was chaired by the Hon’ble Speaker of Mizoram State Legislative Assembly, Shri Hiphei and co- chaired by Member of Parliament from Sikkim, Shri PD Rai, themed ‘Climate Change- Impacts and Way Forward’. The Meet saw the active participation of 8 Members of Parliament from the States of Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim, Manipur, Mizoram, Meghalaya, Assam and Uttarakhand, 19 Members of Legislative Assemblies including two Ministers and Deputy Speakers from all 11 Mountain States.
Shri Hiphei, Hon Speaker, drew the attention of the Delegates to the issue of Climate Change and adverse impacts due to excess rain. He said that for floods adequate relief measures were in place however, for landslides no such mechanisms were available. Hence, said that this must be looked into immediately. He looked forward for interesting debate and discussion over the next few hours. He thanked IMI for the bringing this meet and also thanked all the Legislators who made their presentations in Hindi. He said that the MSLA was enriched and the dignity of the Assembly enhanced by this. Shri Rai reflected on the value of the IMI platform and the Legislators Meet. He said that the increasing interest of the Legislators in the meet showed the usefulness of the conversations that were happening amongst Legislators. He said that this meeting was by far the most in terms of participation.
The Keynote Speaker Dr. Mandira Kala, from PRS Legislative Research drew the attention of the Legislators towards challenges facing the region, cross sectoral impacts of climate change at the level of constituencies and need to strengthen Policy framework on Climate Change. All the legislators present participated in the discussions. The discussion surrounded challenges, legislative measures already present in states and necessary future action. Some of the issues raised by the Hon MPs and MLAs were - recent series of extreme climatic events such a heavy rains, floods and landslides affecting the region; policy Framework by the Center often does not take into account that the increased cost of infrastructure projects in the North Eastern Region; lack basic infrastructure such as hospitals and schools in far flung areas of most Mountain States and adverse impact of climate change on main drivers of economy such as agriculture and tourism.
A set of policy initiatives and reforms were put forward by the Legislators. So me of the suggestion were that traditional knowledge preservation has to be actively boosted in order to live in harmony with nature; consideration of the green bonus of 2% of Gross Budgetary Support to States, recommended by the BK Chaturvedi Committee; an integrated Ministry for Himalayas as a solution going forward; adequate fund allocation is required to make farmers shift to sustainable farming practices; need to formulate policies to accommodate probable influx of climate refugees from our neighbouring countries such as Bangladesh and focus on renewable energy has to be enhanced.
Shri Conrad Sangma, MP, summarized the ideas that came out of the animated meeting. He also read out the Aizawl Declaration and was supported by all members with thumping of desks. Sikkim's MLAs, Shri Choppel and Shri T. W. Basnet attended the meet and also participated in the deliberations. The Legislators' Meet concluded with the unanimous adoption of the Aizawl Declaration 2017, centered around re-engineering State Action Plans for Climate Change; engaging more at the Constituency Level; working closely with Universities for Research; stepping up disaster preparedness and intervention and oversight by Legislators in the Parliament and State Legislative Assemblies