Controversy over the dam over Brahmaputra notwithstanding, India and China would soon start a joint study of Brahmaputra-Salween and the Kangchenjunga landscapes to find out the impact of climate change on the local habitation, as desired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
The environment ministry has sought the external affairs ministry’s approval to spend US $ one million for these studies to be conducted, under the aegis of the Kathmandu based International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD), a specialized body on Himalayan bio-diversity.
The initiative is part of a government bid to have a collaborative effort to study the Himalayan ecosystem spread over India, China, Nepal, Bhutan and Myanmar.
The Brahmaputra-Salween landscape is an important component of the eastern Himalayan ecosystem, which is recognized as a focal point of plant biodiversity and is the last intact natural forest biosphere, which is relatively undisturbed.
The background note for the study, however, identifies shifting agriculture and illegal wildlife trade as major challenge for the Brahmaputra Salween landscape. While China has done lot of research, India and Myanmar lacks enough documents on threats to its north-eastern bio-diversity.
In addition, ICIMOD has identified climate change as a major threat and stressed on the need for having a strategy to deal with these challenges. Dehradun based G B Pant Institute of Himalayan Environment and Development will represent India in the multi-lateral research project.
The bio-diversity management of Kangchenjuna landscape spread over western Bhutan, Sikkim, Darjeeling and eastern Nepal, is equally important. In the last few decades the landscape has undergone huge deterioration and through this project the government aims at transboundary improvement.
“We took the first step in case of Mount Kailash. Now, we have sought approval of MEA for two more transboundary conservation projects,” environment minister Jairam Ramesh told HT.
PM Singh had asked the ministry to initiate regional programmes on glaciology for better understanding of their intricate behaviour. In all there are 33,000 glaciers in Himalayas, of which 10,000 to 12,000 are in India. Although satellite mapping of most glaciers has been done, the on ground study of glaciers has been minimal.
To improve understanding of glaciers, the government has decided to give US $ one million as a one time grant to the ICIMOD Foundation and increase its yearly contribution. The government will be giving US $ one million for a period of three years starting from 2012 as compared to less than half a million US dollars to ICIMOD between 2007 and 2001.