A new ministry should be formed to look into mountain environment and save it from degradation, a Task Force on Mountains has recommended to the government.
It has recommended a ministry for Himalayan states and a research institute to study the impact of climate change and mitigation to develop the world’s best ‘bio-diversity hotspot’.
The task force has told the government that its “sectoral approach” has not helped develope Indian mountain ecosystems and has instead recommended a “holistic” approach.
R.S. Tolia, chairperson of the Task Force, said an integrated approach by creating a separate Ministry of Mountain Development for the states of Uttranchal, Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir along with the Northeastern Region would be a logical step.
The task force has identified a number of loopholes in the ecosystem development of the Himalayas. In its report, it says flora and fauna surveys only cover higher species and do not take into account lower groups. Also, the ecosystem functioning and valuation of ecosystem services are paid little attention.
The report says there is a lack of new initiatives at the community level. Also, the region has witnessed huge ecological degradation because of unplanned development.
The mountain ecosystem covers nearly 18 per cent of the country’s geographical area, which include 11 Indian states and two hill districts in West Bengal. The area is spread over four biogeographic zones — the Indian Trans-Himalaya, the Greater Himalaya, Northeast India and parts of Upper Gangetic and entire Brahmaputra flood plains.