Green dividend for forest rich Himalayan states – Jairam Ramesh

Jairam Ramesh & PK Dhumal at conclave exhitionShimla: Announcing a change in parameters for assessing forest cover in Himalayan states, Jairam Ramesh, union minister for forest and environment here said that the central government had decided to reward these forest rich states with a ‘green dividend’ for the ecological services rendered.

Speaking at the conclusion of the two day chief ministers conclave on ‘Indian Himalayas: Glaciers, Climate Change and Livelihoods’, the Ramesh said that the green bonus would be reflected in the report of the finance commission recommendation that is scheduled to be released next month.

He said to correct an anomaly in tabulating the forest cover of Himalayan states, the area above 4000 meters has been deleted in the new forest survey report that would be released soon as it was above the tree line and it was not possible to have any tree cover in such altitudes.

Just by removing such areas, the forest cover of Himachal goes up from 27 percent to 50 percent, that of Jammu & Kashmir increases from 12 to 40 percent, Sikkim from 50 to 85 % and Uttrakhand from 47 to 60 percent, said the minister.

About preparing environment impact assessment reports for a hydropower project, the minister said that instead of looking at individual projects, a holistic approach of not just taking into account the catchment area of the project but a river basin approach would be assessed.

He said that most glacial scientists agreed that Himalayan glaciers were receding but there was not enough data about the reasons thereof.

The central government had decided to open an national institute of glaciology in Dehardun, announced Ramesh, which would study glaciers in the Indian Himalayas.

Independent of the environment ministry, he said, an independent National Environment Monitoring Authority would be set up to ensure effective implementation.

Himalayan eco-systems cannot be seen in a compartmentalized manner and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has stressed upon regional cooperation. Legitimate security concerns withstanding, there was need to look at river basin systems across borders like the flooding in eastern Bihar that was directly related to environment issues in Nepal, said the minister.

It was time that the country reviewed its role in the Nepal based International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICMOD) for attaining regional cooperation, he added.

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