There should be a new ministry for Himalayan states and research institute for climate change impact and mitigation to save the world’s best ‘bio-diversity hotspot’ from further degradation, a Task Force on mountains has recommended to the government.
The task force has told the government that the ‘sectoral approach’ has not being of much use for developing mountain environment. The Task Force is of the view that the multi-faceted requirements of Indian mountain ecosystems cannot be addressed sectorally but only through a holistic manner.
Instead, an integrated approach by creating a separate ministry of mountain development for states of Uttranchal, Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir with North-Eastern Region would be a logical step, said RS Tolia, chairperson of the Task Force.
The task force also said the concept of one ministry for Himalayan states should not appear unusual as similar approach has delivered intended results in 1960-1970s.
The task force had identified number of loopholes in the ecosystem development of the Himalayas. The floral and faunal surveys cover only higher species and lower groups are left out, thereby not having complete knowledge about Himalayan bio-diversity. Similarly, ecosystem functioning and valuation of ecosystem services have been paid little attention, the report said.
At the community level, the report said, there are few wise resource practices and new initiatives are lacking, while recommending better resource management mechanisms. Also, the region has witnessed a huge ecological degradation because of unplanned development.
The mountain ecosystems covers nearly 18 % of the country’s geographical area, which include 11 Indian states and two hill districts of West Bengal. The area is spread over four biogeographic zones, the Indian Trans-Himalaya, the Greater Himalaya, North-east India and parts of Upper Gangetic and entire Brahmaputra flood plains.
The report says the region plays an important role in shaping the regional climate, carbon sequestration and provides numerous ecosystem services to the mankind. Yet, the mountain people suffer from socio-economic marginality, inaccessibility and lack of livelihood opportunities, Tolia said.
To analyze possible impact of climate change on mountain ecosystem, the task force, wants government to establish meteorological stations and adequate infrastructure for integrated climatological research.
It has also suggested revamping of the Clean Development Mechanism across Indian Himalayan Region for earning carbon credits under the Kyoto Protocol, enabling developing countries to sell credits to developed world.