Eastern India most vulnerable to climate change, says study

Assessment by two IITs and the IISc finds 24 of India’s 100 districts most vulnerable to climate change are in Assam

April 20, 2021 06:00 pm | Updated 06:00 pm IST - GUWAHATI:

A man walks on a garbage dumping site in Guwahati. File

A man walks on a garbage dumping site in Guwahati. File

The greenest part of India is the most vulnerable to climate change, a study by two Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) and the Bengaluru-based Indian Institute of Science (IISc) has revealed.

Along with Chhattisgarh in central India, Jharkhand, Mizoram, Odisha, Assam, Bihar, Arunachal Pradesh, and West Bengal — all in the eastern part of the country — are the eight most vulnerable States that require prioritisation of adaptation interventions, the report by IISc, IIT-Mandi and IIT-Guwahati said.

Tamil Nadu and Kerala are among seven States that are the least vulnerable but there’s more to it meets the eye. The vulnerability indices (VIs) for these States range from the lowest of 0.419 for Maharashtra to 0.468 for Uttarakhand, which the experts involved in the study said is on the higher side.

Published this week, the report on ‘Climate vulnerability assessment for adaptation planning in India using a common framework’ was conducted in 2019-2020 across 29 States “considering the erstwhile Jammu and Kashmir”. It was part of a capacity building programme under the National Mission on Sustaining the Himalayan Ecosystem and National Mission on Strategic Knowledge for Climate Change.

The major drivers for the vulnerability of all the States included lack of forest area per 1,000 rural population, lack of crop insurance, marginal and small operational land holding, low density of health workers, low participation of women in the workforce, yield variability of food grains, and a high proportion of the population below the poverty line.

Jharkhand, with the highest VI of 0.674, topped the list of States most vulnerable to climate change. Among the drivers of its vulnerability is the high incidence of vector-borne diseases, high yield variability of food grains, and low road and rail density.

Some of Jharkhand’s drivers were found relevant for second-placed Mizoram. But while this northeastern State had the highest density of healthcare workers per 1,000 people, less than 8% of them were found to be doctors.

The primary issue with Odisha, which took the third spot, was the prevalence of marginal and small operational landholdings.

The study also revealed 60% of 612 districts (covering the same geographical area as the current 718) assessed are in Assam, Bihar and Jharkhand, in that order. Of these districts most vulnerable to climate change, 24 are in Assam with Karimganj topping the list.

The Climate Change Program of SPLICE (Strategic Programs, Large Initiatives and Coordinated Action Enabler) Division of the Department of Science and Technology coordinated the report in partnership with the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, Embassy of Switzerland.

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