SMDS-III drafts recommendations
KOHIMA, SEPTEMBER 27
FOLLOWING two days of intense deliberations and dialogue on the sustainability of the mountain states of India with special focus on water, forests and agriculture of the region, the outcome of the Sustainable Mountain Development Summit-III on Friday was drafted in the form of a set of recommendations.The participants of the thematic discussions, including eminent development planners, scientists, experts, researchers, academicians, department officials and journalists, delved on mountain specific issues related to the three main themes of the summit and put forward their respective recommendations.
Representing the Water Group, Jwala D Thapa West Bengal University of Judicial Sciences Kolkata said there is inadequate knowledge about dying springs on the mountain states which is leading to loss of forests and grasslands affecting water availability and storage. It was recommended that water conservation, including rainwater harvesting be made mandatory.
On water supply and infrastructure, the Water Group suggested that sustainable access to water for urban areas and sustainable supply for agriculture for rural areas be ensured. It also recommended that decision making processes at all levels with regard to hydropower should be made transparent and inclusive while ensuring cumulative impact assessment, and small hydro under community ownership should be promoted. The group’s view on policy and governance regarding water issues is that policy processes are not based on science and peoples’ feedback and there is lack of capacity development for policy awareness and implementation and lack of data availability and access. With a special focus on disasters that are prone to the region, the water group observed that disasters are increasingly anthropogenic while there is a lack in compensation of land lost to disasters, early warning systems, including community owned ones.
Dr. Akali Sema, representing the Thematic Group on mountain agriculture, said the group identified the biodiversity of the region and the potential identity for mountain produce. However, it found that there is a disconnect in policy, plans and programmes and their implementation. Programmes are more inclined to cash crops and schemes do not reach most farmers and there are no incentives for maintaining biodiversity of mountain agriculture.
The group observed that agriculture should be promoted as an enterprise opportunity, incentive for agrodiversity maintenance be raised and increase infrastructure, research and development on agriculture. It also underscored the lack of mountain specific agriculture supportive infrastructure and the existence of agriculture research biased towards few major crops. Other areas of concern were listed as destruction of supporting natural resources, forest fires, shortening of Jhum cycles, deforestation, declining pollinators and natural resources degradation.
Meanwhile, the Thematic Group on forests deliberated on forest issues relating to geographical setting such as landslides and flash floods, and forest cover reduction owing to biotic, environmental and developmental grounds. The group prioritized points such as growth in demand for forest products, free grazing, fires, encroachment, seismic activities, climate change, developmental issues like construction of dams, roads, hydro-power projects, mining, pollution and tourism as major areas of concern contributing to the decaying of forests. It pointed out the challenging factor lying on conservation versus development. The group recommended that forest quality be enhanced through promotion of various aspects including strengthening role community organizations involved in forest conservation and management, success stories of traditional forest management systems, diversification of livelihoods to reduce forest dependency, integrating forest management practices in academic curricula and development of policies for good governance.