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Has climate change arrived in Nagaland?

india Updated: May 03, 2009 10:29 IST

PTI
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Warmer summers and increase in the number of pests like locusts in the fields and mosquitos in urban areas may be a pointer that climate change has already arrived in Nagaland.

During July-September many places in the state witnessed locusts invading localities in the evenings when lights were switched on, while farmers said swarms were destroying their standing crops.

Since October last year till March end, the state hardly experienced any rain leading to severe drinking water shortage in hill areas, while farmers in many places complained of either delay in sowing or non-germination of seeds.

Vegetable suppliers were saying that everywhere in the North-east farmers were now complaining about unknown diseases affecting their crops with traditional management of such problems not working any more, resulting in unpredictable harvests.

Although there has been no significant research on climatic change in the state, interactions with local farmers suggested a marked change in the climatic pattern affecting the agricultural calendar, a paper published by the state Department of Forest, Ecology, Environment and Wildlife said.

The paper noted that there were indications of a significant rise in the occurrence of summer-borne diseases as well as an increased occurrence of pests such as mosquitoes at higher altitudes than was found earlier.

Climate change might be the reason for these occurrences in the state, the paper said. It was a well documented fact that carbon dioxide was one of the main green house gases which led to climate change, the department paper noted.

A large quantity of CO2 produced by the traditional 'jhum' or slash and burn cultivation which was the main agricultural practice prevailing in the state, it said.

This coupled with rampant deforestation made Nagaland very susceptible to the phenomenon of climate change, the paper said.
Pointing to burning of fossil fuel in vehicles, which was the biggest contributor to global warming at individual level everywhere, the paper urged for reducing fuel consumption by encouraging citizens to use bicycles for short distances and use public transport or even a carpool.

The department paper also suggested that people plant trees to trap and fix carbon to the ground and prevent it from damaging the atmosphere.

It suggested that citizens make sure that garbage was segregated into biodegradable and non-biodegradable, collected regularly and disposed in a correct manner. A teacher of botany held that the government and the people were complacent about over 80 per cent forest cover in Nagaland, while it 'has been drastically reduced'.

The degradation of natural forests in the state must be compensated with a massive tree plantation drive, he asserted. Although Nagaland does not have major industries, an area of concern was the ratio of people and vehicles in the state since the public transport system was poor.

Without a proper study it was difficult to state whether the forest cover was sufficient to absorb emission from vehicles, the teacher said.

According to a conservative estimate, there were 1.50 lalk registered vehicles in Nagaland against a population of 25 lakh, or one vehicle against 16 or 17 people, he pointed out.

The Nagaland government, showing its commitment towards climate change, had officially observed Earth Day on March 28 by switching off lights in the entire state.