Kerala will soon revamp its environment policy, three years after formulating it, to include climate change aspects in the document.

The Department of Environment has initiated a consultation process with various stakeholder agencies in this regard. The views of around 20 departments and research organisations have been sought to enrich the policy document that was published in 2009.

The policy of the State was framed before the formation of the Department of Environment and Climate Change. The document had not covered climate change aspects. The new document seeks to incorporate the views of various stakeholder departments in various aspects of climate change and mitigation measures too, said James Varghese, Environment Secretary.

The proposals of various stakeholders will be consolidated and incorporated in the document. Later, it will be placed in pubic domain, said Mr. Varghese.

Government agencies, including Agriculture, Animal Husbandry, Environment, Department of Environment and Climate Change, Centre for Earth Science Studies, Tropical Botanical Garden and Research Institute, Kerala Forest Research Institute, National Transport Planning and Research Centre and representatives of a non-governmental organisation, attended the meeting held recently in this regard.

“One of the defects of the existing policy was that it was not an actionable one,” said K.P. Laladas, member-secretary of the Kerala State Biodiversity Board, who participated in the deliberations.

Though the document deliberated on various aspects of environment protection in the State, it had failed in enforcing some of the guidelines. The policy document should be redrafted so as to become an actionable one, he said.

It was also pointed out that the existing policy was silent on crucial aspects of climate change, including carbon footprint, greenhouse gas emissions and climate change mitigation measures. Each government department should have an assessment of the impacts of climate change and also the mitigation measures. The views of these agencies will also be reflected in the revised document, experts who attended the meeting said.

Policy statement

The 2009 policy of the State “has been designed to suit the specific local conditions of the State and to help re-orient its development in conformity with environmental perspectives so as to make development sustainable.”

According to the document, the “statistics showing recurring contagious diseases, alarmingly increasing life-style diseases, increasing rates of diseases affecting the growing child, especially related to mental growth and learning disabilities, increasing rate of cancers of almost all types, are manifestations of the sublimely poor environment where we live.”

The policy also “provides a framework within which conservation and development can be achieved simultaneously with a view to maximize the quality of life for everyone in the State, optimising the ecological load on the natural systems as well as building up the State's economy while minimising environmental degradation,” the document said.

The areas covered by the document include loss and degradation of forests and mangrove ecosystems, threat to coastal ecosystems, increased sand and clay mining, threats faced by fresh water and marine fauna.

The conversion of paddy land for cash crops, construction and other development activities have found detailed mention in the existing policy. The deterioration of the rivers and the river ecosystems, increasing scarcity of water, loss of farmland productivity and alarming rate of air, water, and soil contamination have also been discussed in the document.

The footprints left by the increasing threats from industrial pollution, electronic waste and rapid rate of urbanisation on the environmental conditions of the State have been mentioned in the document.

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