Climate change policy warned of floods in State two years ago, no action taken

Harsh reality: Flood-affected people taking shelter at a relief camp, opened in a sugar factory in Kolhapur, on Thursday.

Harsh reality: Flood-affected people taking shelter at a relief camp, opened in a sugar factory in Kolhapur, on Thursday.  

Special cell set up in 2017 for implementation, but policy made no progress after a few meetings; CM forms experts’ committee to study changing weather pattern

The floods in western Maharashtra have renewed the debate on climate change with Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis setting up a panel of experts to look into the changing weather pattern. However, the government has put its own policy in cold storage for nearly two years despite spelling out guidelines to every department and even the district administration.

In October 2017, the State Cabinet gave approval to a climate change policy based on an action plan submitted to it by The Energy and Resources Institute. On October 25, 2017, the environment department issued a 28-page government resolution (GR) detailing an action plan for departments such as forests, water resources, agriculture, power, health, public works, disaster management, rural development, urban development, finance, and planning.

Two years later, neither the above-mentioned departments nor the district administrations have prepared plans to counter the effects of climate change. The GR had specifically directed the government to “have department-wise recommendations/measures by making necessary changes in the existing policies or bringing in new policies.”

The GR had predicted adverse impacts of climate change on agriculture, and possible floods and health-related problems caused by it. “The rise in temperature in the State will lead to changes in rainfall and heat index. The rising temperature and changes in humidity in 2030, 2050 and 2070 will have adverse impact on crop production.”

The GR said these conditions would lead to increase in health hazards. “The possible high rainfall will have adverse impact on basic infrastructure such as roads and bridges, farming on the riverbanks, and population.”

A special cell was set up even then to look into the implementation of the policy and coordination with the Central government and NGOs.

Government officials told The Hindu that departments had been informed about the policy adopted in 2017. “It is the responsibility of each department to act accordingly. Sometimes we indulge in firefighting instead of taking precautionary measures,” an official privy to the discussion said.

The official said , “After 2017, the State government had held department-wise meetings and with private consultancy services to facilitate the implementation of the policy. It never moved ahead after two to three meetings.”

Following the CM’s directions to set up an experts’ committee, sources said, meetings will take place in the last week of August with consultancy agencies on how to go ahead with the policy.

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Printable version | Feb 19, 2020 6:39:06 AM |

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