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Saturday, October 24th, 2020

Himachal Pradesh has made pioneering efforts in environment protection

INVC,, Shimla,, Himachal Pradesh has made pioneering efforts in environment protection by adopting path-breaking strategies for protecting the fragile Himalayan ecology. State Government had accorded highest priority to environment protection to move ahead on the path of sustainable development. Himachal Pradesh took lead for facing global challenges by implementing some historic decisions, for which, the State has also been adjudged as the best state in the country for environment protection and increase of green cover by the leading media houses -IBN7 and Outlook. Himachal Pradesh has emerged as the first state in the country to march towards achieving carbon neutrality. After going through various models of some environment conscious countries like Costa Rica, State Government has drawn up a master-plan with the support of the World Bank for making Himachal Pradesh a complete carbon neutral state. The Centre government has sanctioned bio-carbon project funded by World Bank for the state. It aims at transforming the socio-economic condition of the people by providing livelihood options to the rural poor. The bio-carbon project is under way in about 10,000 hectare of non arable and degraded common forest land. The focus of this project is only on afforestation for which the farmers will receive cash incentives. The project aims to develop cost effective ways to minimize climate change risks by generating environment benefits through carbon regeneration besides improving revenue generating capacity of small farmers. Himalayan Chief Minister’s Conclave was held at Shimla in which Chief Ministers of H.P, Uttrakhand, Union Minister of State for Environment and Forests, Minister for Environment and Forests Jammu and Kashmir and senior officials from Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh participated. The conclave resolved to face the environment challenges jointly for sustainable development. The main highlights of Shimla Declaration were Establishment of Himalayan Sustainable Development Forum, setting up of Councils for Climate Change,  Catalysing research for policy action, Payment for eco-system services, Managing water resources for sustainable development, Challenges of urbanisation, Green transportation, Dealing with impacts of climate change on livelihoods, Decentralised energy security, Managing growth of eco-friendly tourism and pilgrimage, Green industry and Green job creation. The state has also formulated a policy on climate change to prepare a roadmap for issues to be focussed in immediate future to protect the environment. The issues that the policy addresses include introducing technological interventions for reduction of greenhouse emissions from industries, residences, automobiles, landfills and the agricultural sector. It also focuses upon massive afforestation programmes, promoting use of renewable energy, CFL bulbs, meeting energy requirements from hydel power, biomass rather than fossil fuels, recovery of energy from the waste and to prevent change in forest land use. Himachal Pradesh is the first state in the Country to launch a novel scheme like Atal Bijli Bachat Yojna under which four CFL bulbs were distributed to every household of the state at a cost of Rs. 64 crores resulting in saving 270 million units power. The state government has also constituted Himachal Pradesh Environment Fund, a voluntary contribution corpus. The funds would be utilized for relief in losses sustained during natural calamities. Some grants will be given to villages proactive for environment protection and reducing carbon footprints and to the schools, institutions, organizations playing proactive role in environmental protection and conservation Realizing the threat being caused by polythene to the environment, the State Government had banned use of polythene carry bags. It also launched 'Polythene Hatao Paryavaran Bachao' campaign on Earth Day to associate masses and for generating awareness among all sections of the society. It was due to the participation of the masses that polythene has been discarded by the people in the State. Furthermore, cleaning the hills of the plastic waste quantum was a massive task which couldn't have been accomplished but for the support from every section of the society. A buy back scheme for plastic waste from urban local bodies has been started. The plastic waste is being bought at Rs 3 per Kg and an additional rupee will be given as handling charges. The rag pickers will thus be keen to segregate the plastic waste for recycling purposes. The State Government has also decided to provide fiscal incentives to panchayats, urban bodies and individuals for contributing towards proper collection of waste plastic in their respective areas. Out of 1200 to 1500 tonnes of solid waste collected during the first phase of campaign, 50 to 60 tonnes contained plastic waste was used in the mettling of roads. 1757 hot spots have so far been cleaned of the plastic waste. As part of the campaign, the use of polythene and plastic carry bags was banned and NGOs and officials collected them from households for tarring of roads. The State Government has also decided to put complete ban on use of plastic plates and cups from coming 15th August. The small hilly State has earned the distinction of being a trendsetter in development issues. Now the State has emerged as a pioneer in Asia to use plastic in construction of roads. Apart from using the shredded plastic in the construction of roads, Cement plants are also being motivated to integrate solid waste management mechanism into their plants to generate electricity. Cement kilns at ACC Barmana and Ambuja Cements, Darlaghat have already started co- processing of plastic waste. The hotels and resorts are also being encouraged to adopt eco-friendly infrastructural facilities to cater to the requirements of their guests and rating of all such hotels and resorts will be carried by the concerned authorities. The Government has also set up a 'Green Journalism Award' to encourage reporting on environment related issues. This decision will certainly go a long way in creating awareness among every segment of the society. Government has also announced imposing of a voluntary ‘green tax’ on vehicle owners. The tax collected will go into creating a corpus environment fund that will be utilised to implement steps to make the state carbon-neutral. The green tax will, however, be voluntary. In order to bring environment consciousness among the tourists and the locals, the Environment and Pollution Control Department has printed literature of ‘Dos and Don’ts’ which is being distributed at the entry points. Stress is also being laid on sensitizing children and youth and a nine point Environment protection code has been issued to all schools besides starting the Green School Assessment Programme. Eco-Monitoring and Environment Auditing Scheme has been launched in the state and the students have undertaken moral policing assignment for protecting the environment. This scheme is supplementing the environment protection campaign through educational institutions under the supervision of Department of Environment, Science and Technology. Under this campaign, provision has been made to give Green Trophy and cash prize of  Rs  25,000 and Rs 15,000 and Rs 10,000 to schools contributing in curbing the use of plastic bags and disposal of plastic waste. All these far-sighted steps being taken by the state government would go a long way in making the state a role model for other hilly states in the environment protection.

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Rebeca Singler, says on May 21, 2011, 5:30 AM

“A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; An optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” – Winston Churchill