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Green India Mission: Hope or Hype

As a part of the National Action Plan on Climate Change, the draft version of the Green India Mission was released. Though it enlists a number of ambitious goals and targets, the public response and feedback for the mission is yet to be seen.

The India GateA draft of Green India Mission (GIM) was released by the government on May 24, 2010, as part of India’s commitment to fight climate change. It is one of the 8 missions under National Action Plan on Climate Change and aims at increasing the forest cover across the country to serve as “carbon sinks” for reducing green house gases.

The mission recognises that climate change phenomena will seriously affect and alter the distribution, type and quality of natural resources of the country and the associated livelihoods of the people. The Mission acknowledges the influences that the forestry sector has on environmental amelioration through climate mitigation, food security, water security, biodiversity conservation and livelihood security of forest dependent communities.

The implementation period of the Mission would be 10 years, i.e., from FY 2010-2011 to FY 2019-2020. The first year of the Mission would be utilized in institution building, sensitization, capacity building and baseline research etc. Actual field operations will commence from the second year of the Mission.

An Advisory Council chaired by the Minister for Environment and Forests, Govt. of India will provide overall guidance to the Mission. A National Steering Committee will provide necessary direction and support to the Mission activities. The Mission will be serviced by a Mission Directorate at MoEF to be housed in the National Afforestation and Eco-development Board (NAEB). At State level, the Mission will be housed within the State Forest Development Agency in the Forest Department and will have a State Steering Committee and an Executive Committee to help the Mission achieve its aims and objectives. At District level, the Mission activities will be coordinated through the existing mechanism of District Planning Committees and FDAs. The Gram Sabhas and the various Committees set up by them, including Joint Forest Management Committees (JFMCs), Community Forest Management (CFM) groups, Van Panchayats, Village Council etc., will be the key vehicle for planning and implementation at the village level.

Lotus templeThe main objectives of the mission include:

• Double the area to be taken up for afforestation /eco-restoration in India in the next 10 years, taking the total area to be afforested or eco-restored to 20 million ha.
• Increase the GHG removals by India’s forests to 6.35% of India’s annual total GHG emissions by the year 2020 (an increase of 1.5% over what it would be in the absence of the Mission). This would require an increase in above and below ground biomass in 10 million ha of forests/ecosystems, resulting in increased carbon sequestration of 43 million tons CO2-equivalent annually.
• Enhance the resilience of forests/ecosystems being treated under the Mission – enhance infiltration, groundwater recharge, stream and spring flows, biodiversity value, provisioning of services (fuel wood, fodder, timber, NTFPs, etc.) to help local communities adapt to climatic variability.

It also aims at monitoring additional parameters like ground cover, soil condition, erosion and infiltration, run-off, ground water levels to develop water budgets as well as biomass monitoring indicators. Gram Sabha and its various committees would be strengthened as institutions of decentralized forest governance.

The nine sub-missions include separate targets for moderately dense forests, degraded forests, degraded scrub and grasslands, mangroves, wetlands, urban forest lands and institutional areas with tree cover, degraded and fallow agricultural land, wildlife corridors, more efficient stoves and alternative energy devices for better fuel wood use, and enhanced livelihoods for communities dependent on biomass and non-timber forest produce.

Though the draft seems holistic the targets are overambitious. It is rather vague on the source of funding and merely states that the “resources will be mobilised as additionality from the Planning Commission, the deficit, if any, will be taken care of by developing projects for seeking assistance from international funding agencies, UN organisation, etc.” Last month, Union Minister of State for Environment and Forests Jairam Ramesh had indicated that the government was hunting for funds for the Mission, as “the money collected under the compensatory afforestation scheme would now be transferred to the States and so would not be available.

The other big challenge before the mission is the demand-supply gap of various provisioning services from forests, particularly fuel wood, fodder, grass, grazing, timber, cane and bamboo, creating unsustainable pressure and degrading forests and their ecosystems.

The mission will be finalised after a series of public consultations to be undertaken across the country, The first public consultation was held at Guwahati  and the views of people and NGOs regarding the draft were collected. The second public consultation is scheduled on June 16 at Vishakhapatnam. Subsequent consultations will be held at Pune, Dehradun, Bhopal, Jaipur and Mysore. The consultation process will continue for a month before the final draft is finalised.

The feedback about GIM can also be solicited by email to kbthampi-mef@nic.in, varad.pande@nic.in and bmsrathore@yahoo.co.in.

References:
http://business.rediff.com/report/2010/may/24/draft-to-double-indias-forest-cover-released.ht
http://www.thaindian.com/newsportal/enviornment/green-india-mission-matches-technology-to-indian-needs_100265413.html
http://sify.com/news/ministry-starts-talking-to-people-on-green-india-mission-news-national-kgls4cfeafa.html
http://www.thehindu.com/2010/05/26/stories/2010052663161100.htm

Image Courtsey
Esa Shamih
Ramesh Lalwani
Adib Roy

Author: Romita Pandita