Amid global concerns over climate change, India on Friday decided to come out with a national policy soon to address the challenges and launch a major country-wide afforestation campaign next month.
The key decisions were taken at the first meeting of the newly set up National Council on Climate Change in New Delhi which was chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and attended by his senior Cabinet colleagues and top scientists.
"The government will launch a green India campaign on August 15. This is a major programme for increasing the green cover in the country," Prime Minister's Media Advisor Sanjaya Baru told reporters after the meeting.
Besides, the high-powered council also resolved to bring out a strategy paper on climate change which would form the basis for a national policy to address the issue and set up a sub-committee for preparing the draft.
The committee, comprising Principal Scientific Advisor to the Prime Minister R Chidambaram, Chairman of the Inter-Governmental panel on Climate Change RK Pachauri and Union Environment Secretary, will sumbit the report by October-November, he added.
The significant decisions came against the backdrop of the United States and other western countries blaming India and China for contributing the major portion of green house gas emissions.
Baru said the government will fund research on melting of Himalayan glaciers on a priority basis "to understand what exactly is happening in the Himalayas and the impact of water flow into the rivers which are dependent on the glaciers".
The members of the committee emphasised the need for more investment in research on climate change and providing state-of-the-art facilities, including super computers to all Indian researchers.
The council also stressed the need for developing environment-friendly public transport in all urban centres to reduce dependence on private vehicles with an aim to save petrol and to bring down pollution levels.
The council was constituted by the Prime Minister last year with the Ministers of Agriculture, Finance, Science and Technology, Energy and Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission as its members.
Noted scientists like Pachauri, Nitin Desai and Chidambaram are also members of the council.