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Home / India News / Ladakh, Leh, Kargil to be India’s first carbon neutral region: PM Modi

Ladakh, Leh, Kargil to be India’s first carbon neutral region: PM Modi

While the concept of carbon neutral villages have been considered in India in the past and some villages in Kerala and Manipur have adopted it, this will be the first large region to be carbon neutral.

india Updated: Aug 16, 2020 09:01 IST
Jayashree Nandi
Jayashree Nandi
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Prime Minister Narendra Modi waves during 74th Independence Day function at the Red Fort, in New Delhi.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi waves during 74th Independence Day function at the Red Fort, in New Delhi. (PTI)

A 7500 MW solar park is being built in Ladakh for electricity and infrastructure development in the region. The Ladakh, Leh and Kargil region will be developed and declared to be a carbon neutral region, PM Modi said in his Independence Day speech on Saturday.

While the concept of carbon neutral villages have been considered in India in the past and some villages in Kerala and Manipur have adopted it, this will be the first large region to be carbon neutral. Carbon neutrality means annual zero net anthropogenic (human caused or influenced) CO2 emissions by a certain date. “By definition, carbon neutrality means every ton of anthropogenic CO2 emitted is compensated with an equivalent amount of CO2 removed,” according to World Resources Institute. Many countries have announced to be carbon neutral by 2050 as part of the Paris Agreement.

“Just like Sikkim has positioned itself as an organic state, the Ladakh, Kargil and Leh region is moving in the direction of becoming carbon neutral. This will be achieved with participation from local people,” PM Modi said adding that India now among top 5 countries in renewable energy generation.

“It is heartening to hear an environmentally conscious independence day speech. The ongoing pandemic has shown that living in harmony with nature is the only way forward. The Ladakh region is a natural carbon sink and making it carbon neutral pave the way for many other regions in India to embark on this carbon neutrality journey. It will be now interesting to see how this announcement is operationalised and replicated in other parts of the country. It will also be intriguing to see how large businesses will respond to this call.

“India leads the UN secretary general’s Industry Transitions Track along with Sweden and such domestic measures will enable enhanced global cooperation which is essential in winning the fight against climate change,” said Karan Mangotra, associate director and climate finance expert at The Energy and Resources Institute.

PM Modi also announced that 100 cities will be considered on a mission mode to achieve clean air through various policy, participatory and technological interventions.

Along the lines of Project Tiger; PM Modi said Project Lion and Project Dolphin will be rolled out soon to ensure biodiversity conservation which may also boost tourism.

India recorded a 33% increase in tiger numbers from 2014 to 2018, according to the summary of the report, All India Tiger Estimation Results, released last year. There were 2,967 tigers in India in 2018, compared to 2,226 in 2014.

In India, Gangetic dolphins are found along deep river reaches in Assam, Bihar, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal. As per environment ministry’s assessment report, there are about 3700 Gangetic dolphins.

Environment ministry will be launching a ten year “Project Gangetic Dolphin” which will try to empower the river dependent population in reducing the river pollution and allowing sustainable fisheries. The project will be implemented by various ministries including jal shakti, ministry of shipping, ministry of agriculture & farmers welfare, ministry of fisheries, animal husbandry and dairying, ministries of power and rural development.

Experts said the impact of large solar parks in ecologically fragile areas also need to be studied. “It will be important to see how the government seeks to achieve carbon neutrality in the region and whether social costs or impacts on biodiversity are being considered. Setting up of solar parks or creating plantations as carbon sinks are not environmentally benign projects as calculations for carbon emissions do not take into account all impacts,” said Kanchi Kohli, legal researcher at Centre for Policy Research.

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