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  India   All India  10 Jun 2019  Assam least prepared for climate change among Himalayan states

Assam least prepared for climate change among Himalayan states

THE ASIAN AGE. | MANOJ ANAND
Published : Jun 10, 2019, 2:38 am IST
Updated : Jun 10, 2019, 2:38 am IST

Livelihood and survival of communities in Himalayan states are going to be threatened, warns a study by Indian Institute of Technology.

The new climate change study is significant because it has produced India's first vulnerability map.
 The new climate change study is significant because it has produced India's first vulnerability map.

Guwahati: With climate change affecting the Himalayan landscape and weather patterns causing longer summers and shorter winters, a study by the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) in collaboration with the states of Indian Himalayan region has warned that the livelihood and survival of communities in Himalayan states are going to be threatened.

Pointing out that of the 12 Himalayan states, Assam, Mizoram and Jammu and Kashmir are most vulnerable to the impact of the climate change, the study has found that high vulnerability leaves the region with low capacity to anticipate, resist or recover from the impact of a climate hazard.

The study also points out that Himalayan communities are generally more vulnerable to climate change because they have fewer options of livelihood, limited infrastructure and a high dependence on natural resources.

The authorities in all the 12 states — Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim, Tripura, Uttarakhand and West Bengal in the Indian Himalayan region collaborated in the study.

Aimed at identifying the drivers of vulnerability and developing ways of adapting to and mitigating their impact, the study titled Climate Vulnerability Assessment for the Indian Himalayan Region Using a Common Framework was conducted by the Indian Institutes of Technology (IIT) at Mandi and Guwahati and the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) at Bengaluru.

The drivers of vulnerability vary across states. In Assam, the drivers include low per capita income, low percentage area under crop insurance and low participation in the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Scheme (MGNREGS), a poverty alleviation programme that promises 100 days of paid work to poor families. Lack of access to information and infrastructure are factors that make it difficult for communities in the state to cope with any climate variability. The western border district of Dhubri, the eastern district of Lakhimpur and the central district of Sonitpur are Assam's most vulnerable.

Mizoram's agriculture sector was found to be highly sensitive, with the second lowest percentage of area under irrigation among the 12 states. The state also has poor connectivity — its road density is the third lowest among the HIS — and poor access to information and infrastructure.

J&K lags in road density, area under crop insurance, area under forests per 1,000 rural households, percentage of marginal farmers, percentage area under horticulture crops, livestock-to-human ratio, and percentage of women in the workforce.

Himachal Pradesh, another vulnerable state, was found to have inadequate irrigation facilities — only 20-21 per cent of its net cropped area is irrigated and the rest is mostly dependent on rains. But the low yield variability of grain grown here reduces the sensitivity of agricultural production to climate change. The only drivers of vulnerability observed were low livestock-to-human ratio and a large presence of small and marginal farmers (owning less than two hectares of land), who constitute 87.95 per cent of the total peasant population and own 54.17 per cent of the total land, the report pointed out.

The report observed that high vulnerability leaves a region with low capacity to anticipate, resist or recover from the impact of a climate hazard.

Quoting some of the recent studies, the Indian Institute of Science, the report expressed concern that India's greenest and wettest Himalayan state, Meghalaya, is becoming warmer as rains there become uncertain, leaving a quarter of its forests “highly vulnerable” to climate change. Its plant and animal life are being impacted, disturbing the lives of communities as well.

The new climate change study is significant because it has produced India's first vulnerability map. One of its aims is to evolve a common methodology, and determine how states and their districts are equipped to deal with the risks of climate change. A geospatial application has also been launched depicting climate vulnerabilities and risks at the state and district level, the report stated.

Tags: indian institute of technology, himalayan states
Location: India, Assam, Guwahati (Gauhati)