Cabinet approves plan to sustain Himalayan ecosystem

New Delhi, Feb 28: The union cabinet Friday approved a mission aimed at developing capacity to assess the “health status” of the Himalayan ecosystem, and facilitate policy-formulation for development of the mountainous region.

The union cabinet, at a meeting here, approved the document concerning the National Mission for Sustaining the Himalayan Ecosystem (NMSHE), which will scientifically assess the vulnerability of the region to climate change.

According to an official press release, the mission was launched under the National Action Plan on Climate Change with a budget outlay of Rs.550 crore during the 12th plan.

The release said NMSHE would seek to address a variety of issues such as Himalayan glaciers, prediction and management of natural hazards, bio-diversity conservation and wild life conservation,

The mission will also assist in rehabilitation process in Uttarakhand in the wake of last year’s flash floods.

“The mission shall also scientifically assess the vulnerability of the himalayan region to climate change in all dimensions of physical, biological and socio-cultural aspects,” the release said.

“The mission also aims to build and support capacities at the central and state levels to assess climate change and formulate adequate response measures to challenges in the Himalayan region.”

It also seeks to safeguard communities in the Himalayas from the impacts of climate change through evidence based policy formulation and enhanced research and capacity.

“The marginalized and vulnerable communities of the Himalayan region will be the major beneficiaries of the mission,” the release said.

The mission covers all 12 Himalayan states namely the hill states of Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Manipur, Mizoram, Tripura, Meghalaya, and two “partial hill states” including Assam and West Bengal.

The Department of Science and Technology has been given the responsibility to coordinate the implementation of NMSHE.

A mission cell (NMSHE Cell) would be set up at the Climate Change Programme Division of the Department of Science and Technology.

Official sources said climate change has emerged as an important area of environmental and development planning.

The Prime Minister’s Council on Climate Change launched NAPCC in June 2008.

The NAPCC comprises of eight national Missions, including the National Solar Mission, National Mission for Enhanced Energy Efficiency, National Mission on Sustainable Habitat, National Water Mission, National Mission for Sustaining the Himalayan Ecosystem, National Mission for a Green India, National Mission for Sustainable Agriculture and National Mission on Strategic Knowledge for Climate Change.

IANS