In a major decision to deal with climate change which is threatening to assume worrying proportions, the Uttarakhand government has decided to deploy one percent of the total budget of each of its 66 department towards climate change adaptation measures . State council on climate change has given the go-ahead for the move which is expected t be formalized soon. Experts said that the move, if implemented properly, is likely to induce sensitivity among departments towards dealing with the increasingly worsening problem.
RN Jha, Chief conservator of forests and the current nodal head on climate change in the statesaid, "Uttarakhand Council on Climate Change has already approved the proposal of allocating one percent budget of each state government department for climate change adaptation program in -principal and only formal announcement is awaited, likely to be made soon."
He said, the emphasis is now on the departments with these sectoral responsibilities to take real action, using the scientific evidence and policy direction provided by this project and the State Climate Change Centre.
Amit Negi, principal Secretary, Disaster Management and secretary Planning and Finance, felt that it was important for three or four key line departments such as forest, water, energy to integrate climate action and disaster resilience in their planning. Since the state was currently undergoing budgetary planning, this was a good opportunity for departments to think about climate specific funds. He also referred to the decision to allocate up to 1% of the departmental budget for climate planning, which he said, in many ways was a milestone for Uttarakhand in seeking finance internally for climate change.
S Ramaswamy, chief secretary inaugurated the conference on the theme of 'Applying the Uttarakhand vulneratbility and risk assessment to integrate climate change in state development planning'. He suggested a 'lab to land' approach to translate the scientific evidence of climate change in Uttarakhand to action, to take it to "communities and the common man". The conference had discussions between key government and non-government stakeholders in Uttarakhand on next steps for integrating climate change in sectoral planning in the state. The conference hosted by the Forest Department with support from the Climate and Development Knowledge Network (CDKN).
John Firth, chief executive officer of United Kingdom based organisaiton Acclimatise pointed out that we also need to concentrate that 99% of the budget allocation was also focused on eco-friendly development. Jai Raj, principal chief conservator of forests added that with right approach on development, we will save our efforts, resources and money which otherwise go waste when disaster happen due to faulty development actions.
PC Tiwari, expert on disaster and faculty member from Kumon University gave examples as to how various department will utilize one percent budget for climate change adapation. "The water department will spend on rain water harvesting which will provide water for irrigation and, help in ground water recharge. PWD would construct roads keeping the slope in such a way which do not trigger land slides and, would avoid tree felling. And green buildings which keep the room temperature stable. The agriculture department can provide seeds to the farmer of those crops which are drought restraint and can survive in less water condition.
The Uttarakhand Action Plan on Climate Change (UAPCC) was finalised in 2014, and recognised the necessity of evidence-based decision making in the face of current and future climate change in the state. This gap has now been significantly filled with the comprehensive Vulnerability and Risk Assessment (VRA) study, and also a policy guidance document called ' Agenda for Climate Action' , focusing on five keys sectors: Agriculture, Water, Health, Forests and Disaster. Few months ago, the State Climate Change Centre and the inter-sectoral Climate Action Group had been set up to focus on climate resilient development in the state.