Bihar dumps action plan on climate change, waits for newer version
Chief minister Nitish Kumar-led Bihar government may have allocated a huge budget to ‘Jal Jivan Haryali’ scheme - an ambitious programme to fight the unpredictability of weather - but it is going too slow to frame a comprehensive action plan to deal with the issues of climate change and its devastating impact on natural resources. While experts blamed the lack of an institutional framework for the implementation of the action plan, others said the Covid-19 pandemic dampened many efforts.
Principal secretary, department of forest, environment and climate change, Dipak Kumar Singh, said that the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) had been tasked to prepare the action plan on climate change. “We hope to get the action plan by the year-end,” said Singh. The proposed plan aims to make Bihar a carbon-neutral state by 2040,” said an official.
Chief minister Nitish Kumar, during the conclave of eastern zone states on climate change in 2018, termed the issue crucial for Bihar, particularly in view of the continued decline in rains, and asked the department of forest and environment to get a climate action plan in place so that the emission of greenhouse gases could be curtailed significantly. He had also favoured setting up a fully equipped climate change cell in the department.
Although a separate cell to deal with climate change issues was set up within the forest and environment department in 2019, its technical wing (a unit of the cell that comprises technical staff, analysts and researchers) is yet to be constituted for want of recruitment of suitable candidates. Head of the climate cell wing, Santosh Tiwari, said that the recruitment process was hampered due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Moved by the CM’s resolve, the department of forest and environment, which got added with climate change mandate on the Centre’s direction in the light of Paris declaration at the United Nations conference of climate change in 2015, teamed up with the United Kingdom government agency, Department for International Development (DFID) and prepared the five-year action plan for climate change (2020-25).
The DFID had submitted the draft action plan by 2019-end to the state government, suggesting various strategies, including plans to strengthen the agricultural value chain to ensure a handsome return to farmers of their produce, desiltation strategy of Kosi to enhance is water retention capacity, development of agriculture-based industries, productive use of rivers’ silt, promotion of bamboo farming, etc, to help people tide over the climate challenges.
But the same was not approved by the government and was later withdrawn.
Climate expert Abhishek Pratap said that the state government lacked an institutional framework to implement the action plan and empower its machinery to act diligently. “Framing of policies or plans would not help until followed up with action. The state might not be grappling with climate crisis had it been woken to the issues of conservation of environment earlier,” said Pratap.
• DFID had submitted a draft action plan on climate change to the state government in 2019
• State forest and climate change department set up a special wing on climate change in 2019
• Bihar govt signed MoU with UNEP for climate resilience and carbon check strategy in 2021
• Proposed action plan, being framed by UNEP, will aim to make Bihar carbon neutral by 2040
• Kosi desilting, strengthening of agri value chain, proposed by earlier plan, remain non-starter