SIKKIM ENVIRONMENT: Climate focus on eight core areas – Less rain & receding snow line spur Sikkim action plan – global problem, manmade or natural, needs damage control ?!!
FROM THE TELEGRAPH CORRESPONDENT
Gangtok, May 17: Receding ski slopes and a rise in mercury level have prompted the Sikkim government to frame an action plan for climate change.
Minimum temperatures have risen by 1 to 1.5 degrees Celsius in the past five decades, affecting the annual snowfall in the high-altitude areas of Yumthang Valley in North district.
The president of the Travel Agents’ Association of Sikkim, Paljor Lachungpa, who has been promoting skiing in Yumthang since 2008, had to call off this year’s itinerary because of low snowfall.
“We usually have heavy snowfall during February and March every year in Yumthang, which has high potential for skiing sports. But this season, there was less snowfall. Hopefully, we will have good snowfall next season so we can introduce skiing on a commercial basis,” said Lachungpa. However, the flowering season in Yumthang this year was phenomenal because of the low snowfall. “I had never seen such blooming of rhododendrons in the valley ever in my life.”
According to the Met office in Gangtok, 2009 was the warmest in the century for Sikkim.
Citing the Indian Meteorological Department records, state science and technology secretary M.L. Arrawatia admitted an increase of 0.2 to 0.3 degree Celsius for Sikkim every 10 years. So in the past 50 years, temperature in Gangtok has risen by 1 to 1.5 degrees Celsius, he said.
After a two-day brainstorming workshop for preparing the action plan, Arrawatia said eight priority areas — forests, wildlife, eco-tourism, water resources, energy efficiency, urban habitats, agriculture and horticulture and communities vulnerable to climate changes — have been identified.
Winter rainfall has already reduced to a great extent, which has resulted in low water availability in the springs in rural areas, said the secretary. The action plan will include recharging water resources by way of plantation and rainwater harvesting.
The state government will notify various “working groups” from departments to study each priority area. “We are trying to finish the action plan draft by October and initiate pilot projects,” said Arrawatia.
The secretary said the German Development Bank was already in touch with the DoNER ministry to implement the pilot projects for the Northeast .
Arrawatia said the Sikkim government, in the past two decades, has taken several exemplary measures to protect ecology in the Himalayan state. “The action plan will further strengthen our steps towards protection of the environment.”
Take environmental safeguards before implementing projects: Governor
From The Press Trust Of India
Gangtok, May 16, 2010, 22:35 IST: Proper environmental safeguards must be taken before any new project is started in the mountains and river valleys of Sikkim, Governor B P Singh said in Gangtok Sunday.
“This was particularly relevant in the case of roads and hydel projects as the mountains of Sikkim are geologically fragile and that the state government and locals alike should be extra vigilant in such cases because developments must go on but their negative impacts must be minimized to the extent possible,” Singh said.
Sikkim’s resource is all nature based and sensitive to environmental changes and this reality the state government should be compelled to work and progress within this limitation, Singh stated.
On tourism he said “since our tourism resources are all nature based and exposed to environmental and ecological impacts, we should try maintain a balance between quality and quantity tourism after assessing our carrying capacity.”
He further said that our ultimate goal should be to encourage local private initiatives to manage tourism affairs and the government’s role should be limited to being a facilitator and a regulator.