Enviromentalists welcome Arunachal’s Pakke Declaration with caution

Environmentalists have welcomed with caution the Arunachal Pradesh government’s ‘Pakke 2047 Declaration’ on Climate Change Resilient and Responsive Arunachal Pradesh that was adopted by the state cabinet on Saturday.

In a landmark decision, the Arunachal Pradesh government had on Saturday adopted the ‘Pakke Tiger Reserve 2047 Ministerial Declaration on Climate Change Resilient and Responsive Arunachal Pradesh’ to accelerate comprehensive, smart, climate resilient and inclusive development of the people and state with all-round efforts.

The Declaration envisages a multi-sectoral ‘whole of government- and whole of society- approach’ on the pathway towards low emissions and climate-resilient development through its five broad themes, termed as ‘Panch Dharas’ that, in turn, rest on 75 strategies.

The Panch Dharas comprise ‘Environment, Forest & Climate Change’; ‘Health & Well-being of All’; ‘Sustainable & Adaptive Living’; ‘Livelihoods & Opportunities’ and ‘Evidence Generation & Collaborative Action’.

For the first time, the state cabinet went all the way to the Pakke Tiger Reserve, Pakke Kessang, about 75 km from Itanagar, to hold the cabinet meeting that passed this Declaration.

“The #PakkeDeclaration on climate change resilient & responsive Arunachal adopted in cabinet meeting today is a historic & significant milestone in #AzadiKaAmritMahotsav,” Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Pema Khandu tweeted soon after the cabinet passed it.

This declaration is a first of its kind by any state government in the country.

Besides, it seeks to synergize the efforts of the state government to realize Sustainable Development Goals (SGGs) in the larger context of climate change.

“The Arunachal Pradesh government would do its best to protect the people from challenges posed by the ongoing climate change and its impacts on biodiversity through addressing both the risks to the economy and the ecosystem,” Khandu had stressed on Saturday.

Khandu had also highlighted the focus on Research & Development to develop capacities and enhance technical know-how on climate resilience mitigation and responsive strategies through collaboration with academia and think tanks with a priority area being documentation of Traditional Knowledge Systems of Indigenous Communities to preserve and propagate adaptive climate resilient methods and locally sustainable practices.

The first theme, ‘Environment, Forest and Climate Change’ has 23 strategies, including ‘Protect and maintain the Very Dense Forest in Arunachal Pradesh’, ‘Attenuate the drivers of deforestation such as illegal felling encroachment in forest areas’, ‘Increase solar power generation’ and ‘Increase penetration of LED’.

The second theme of ‘Health and Well Being’ has seven strategies; the third theme of ‘Adaptable and Sustainable Living’ has 15 strategies, including ‘Conduct climate risk vulnerability assessment and demarcate hazard-prone zones’ and ‘Promote low carbon transport systems for local commute in all cities and towns’; the fourth theme of ‘Livelihood and Opportunities’ has 20 strategies while the fifth theme of ‘Evidence Generation and Collaborative Action’ has 10 strategies.

Social worker and founder of Ehili Memorial Foundation, Sumila Linggi was upbeat about the declaration. She said: “It is definitely a positive development, a very good initiative on part of the government.”

But given the track record of the Arunachal Pradesh government, Linggi, who hails from Roing in Dibang Valley district, said: “Let us see how it actually rolls out on the ground. The government also has grand promises on paper but it hardly translates on the ground properly. Hope this does not turn out that way.”

Referring to one of the strategies of ‘Increasing hydel power production, including through micro/mini/pico projects’, Himanshu Thakkar of South Asia Network for Dams Rivers and People (SANDRP) said: “Big hydro (anything above 1 MW) is not a climate solution because there are multiple ways in which these projects, the dams, the reservoirs contribute to the emissions causing global warming. One is of course, the methane generation through the reservoirs. Second is the destruction of carbon sinks in terms of forests and wetlands.”

“And then there is this use of large quantity of cement, steel and fuels in the project during construction, all these also contribute to the global warming,” Thakkar said, adding: “But most important is that these hydropower projects have a huge environmental footprint, which also destroy the adaptation capacity for the community and the environment. Moreover, it also works as a force multiplier in case of disasters, induced by climate change or otherwise.”

Arunachal Pradesh’s wetlands in general and the high altitude wetlands in particular are fragile ecosystems and vulnerable as they are under pressure of developmental projects, including big ticket infrastructure projects, said World Wide Fund – India’s coordinator for Western Arunachal Landscape, Kamal Medhi.

“There are 1,600-odd high altitude wetlands in the state, which is supposed to have prepared a brief document but not done yet. Not sure, exactly what does the government plan to do with recreational fishing? May be part of tourism promotion for those areas that hardly have any habitation.”



Source: Einnews

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