Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Need a Master Plan for environment protection: Governor

Workshop on climate changes

‘Time to reverse damage done to the environment’

In a bid to preserve its fragile ecosystem, the Jammu and Kashmir Governor, NN Vohra, on Wednesday asserted that the state needed a Master Plan to address the issue.

“Time has come to protect the environment by way of having a full-fledged Master Plan in hand for the whole state from Ladakh downwards. The Master Plan should address the issue of environment protection by suggesting where to go for development and constructions keeping in view the fragile ecology of J&K,” he said while addressing delegates and officials at the valedictory function of the 3-day International Workshop on Climate Change at the University of Kashmir.

He said the Master Plan should be statutory in nature and the one whose provisions won’t be violated. “In J&K we have a very fragile ecosystem. We need to preserve its environment,” Vohra said, adding that “We are not only close to the problem of climate change but in the midst of it.”

The 3-day Workshop titled “Climate Change, Glacial Retreat and Livelihoods” was organised jointly by the University of Kashmir, State Forest Research Institute (SFRI) and The Energy Research Institute (TERI).

The Chief Minister, Omar Abdullah, said there was need to sensitize the civil society about the consequences of climate change. “The issue of climate change is no longer theoretical as was perceived some years back. It is something that is visible to us. If we wake up to the issue today, we may be able to salvage something for posterity,” he said, adding, “There was definite and visible retreat of our glaciers, not in centimeters but meters.”

Omar, who is also the university pro-chancellor, said that the challenge before the government was to reverse the damage caused to the environment over the years. “People are to be made aware about the environment, climate change and glacial retreat as all this concerns them directly. We are seeing visible change in climate in Kashmir where summers are getting warmers and cropping patterns are changing,” he said, adding that the Workshops like these lend practical dimension to the problems like Climate Change.

In his welcome address, the KU Registrar, Prof S Fayyaz Ahmad, underlined the initiatives taken by the varsity to address the issue of Climate Change. “On the instructions of vice-chancellor, we have formed a Working Group on Climate Change which has been hailed at the national and international level,” he said, adding that the subject was a thrust area of research at Kashmir University.

He called for establishment of an Integrated Research Centre to address the issues of climate change, environment and energy. “That is vital for the socio-economic development of the state,” Prof Fayyaz, who represented the varsity, said.

The Commissioner/Secretary (Forests), Shantamanu, presented brief summary of the technical sessions of the Workshop.

The minister for Forests, Mian Altaf Ahmad, said his Ministry was alive to the challenges it faced vis-à-vis environment. “Whatever recommendations will be presented to us, we will ensure that they are implemented,” he said, while calling for empowerment of the Ecology and Environment Department.

The Senior Fellow at TERI, Prof SI Hasnain, talked about the overall discussions that took place during the three days of the Workshop.

On the occasion the organizers presented a set of recommendations regarding the climate change to the Govt of J&K. These include educated people about the climate change, adopting appropriate energy technologies in the region and performing a comprehensive assessment of the likely impact of climate change on the hydropower sector in J&K.

The conference felt that the dedicated institution in the state be mandated to coordinate actions of all the organizations to address adaptation to mitigate of climate change

Among others present on the occasion included senior KU academics and officials besides senior officers of the state government. The advisors to Chief Minister, Davinder Rana and Mubarak Gul, also chaired the dais.

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