Nodal Officers not appointed in majority of key deptts
JAMMU, May 10: Notwithstanding visible adverse impact of climate change, J&K is showing slackness in obtaining benefit of National Adaptation Fund on Climate Change, a Central Sector Scheme aimed at mitigating the effects of change in the statistical distribution of weather patterns. This can be gauged from the fact that only one department has availed assistance during the past over three years while as others are still soft-paddling on preparation of Project Concept Notes, which is a primary step towards obtaining financial support.
Official sources told EXCELSIOR that keeping in view fast changing weather patterns, the Union Government on June 30, 2008 released country’s first National Action Plan on Climate Change outlining the existing and future policies and programs to address climate related mitigation and adaptation measures. Accordingly, all the States were directed to come up with their own State Action Plan on Climate Change.
After much soft-paddling, the J&K State Climate Change Action Plan was prepared in 2014 and accordingly the same was submitted to the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests. In August 2015, the Union Government established National Adaptation Fund on Climate Change (NAFCC) to assist the States that are vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change in meeting the cost of adaptation activities that reduce the effects of climate change.
However, despite the fact that in Jammu and Kashmir, which nestles in fragile Himalayan ecosystem, there are continuous fluctuations in climate because of varied reasons, only one department has obtained benefit of National Adaptation Fund on Climate Change during the past over three years, sources said, adding under this Fund the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests had cleared one project of the Agriculture Production Department worth Rs 22.51 crore in 2015-16 but since then none of the 11 concerned departments of J&K submitted any project for consideration under NAFCC.
“What to talk of submitting projects to Ministry of Environment and Forests, several key departments have not even prepared Project Concept Notes, which otherwise is the primary step towards obtaining financial assistance under NAFCC”, sources informed.
The intensity of non-seriousness of the concerned departments can be gauged from the fact that even Nodal Officers have not been appointed despite repeated directions in this regard by the Chief Secretary, they further informed, adding “it seems that concerned authorities of the State have not learnt any lesson from the adverse effects of climate change in the form of unexpected rains, snowfall, flash floods and shrinking of water bodies”.
Because of the casual approach of the concerned departments State Climate Change Action Plan has merely been reduced as insignificant document, they remarked.
When contacted, Commissioner Secretary, Forest, Environment and Ecology Department, Sourabh Bhagat confirmed that only Agriculture Production Department has obtained benefit of NAFCC. “This year we are trying to get project of Forest Department cleared”, he further said while admitting that other concerned departments have yet not come up with their Project Concept Notes.
He disclosed that recently Government constituted Project Management Unit for supporting State Climate Change Centre/Cell at the Department of Ecology, Environment and Remote Sensing for effective implementation of State Plan on Climate Change.
The terms of reference of the Project Management Unit will be to support development of the project proposal and DPR for priority action proposed under SAPCC and support Climate Change Cell in sourcing funding from Government institutions or external funding agency.
“The Project Management Unit will also approve annual action plans, coordinate with working groups and State Missions for planning and convergence”, he further said, adding “climate change research and co-opt any policy, research and academic professional or expert for effective implementation of State Action Plan on Climate Change will also be the responsibility of Project Management Unit”.
However, sources said that this arrangement will prove beneficial only when all the concerned departments act promptly on preparation of Project Concept Notes for availing assistance under National Adaptation Fund on Climate Change.