Environment

India and China concerned about degradation of Himalayas: Anil Dave

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Speaking at a BRICS environment ministers' meeting, he said this was the effect of global climate change and they were working out ways to address the matter

Stating that the rapid melting of glaciers in the Himalayan range is a major issue, Union Minister for Environment and Forests (Independent Charge) Anil M. Dave on Friday said that India and China were both “concerned” about the degradation of the world’s highest mountain range.

Mr. Dave said that now everybody has developed an understanding that there is something wrong going on because of a larger issue of climate change. He was briefing presspersons on Friday at the two-day discussions on global climate change and other environmental issues at a meeting of the Environment Ministers of the BRICS countries at a South Goa resort.

He said that the Environment Ministers of BRICS countries agreed on a Memorandum of Understanding and announced setting up of a joint working group institutionalising their mutual cooperation on diverse environment-related issues.

Thirty-forty years ago, those who had been to the Himalayan range used to say that it was covered with a blanket of ice and now the ice cover is as big as a kerchief and spread in patches, the Minister said. He said that India and China were the main two countries on the either side of Himalayas, who were both concerned about the degradation.

Areas for mutual cooperation

“We are all concerned, nobody is blaming each other. It is not the countries that are surrounding the mountains that are responsible, but it is the effect of the global climate change. So we are thinking in detail about what to do and what not to do,” he said giving an idea of the “level of discussions” the BRICS Ministers had engaged in on such issues of global concerns as well as bilateral concerns.

He said that the areas agreed for mutual cooperation were abatement and control of air, and water pollution, efficient management of liquid and solid waste, climate change and conservation of biodiversity. Issues related to air, industrial pollution, agriculture, bio-diversity and the effect of climate change on it were primarily discussed at the two-day meet.

“Our water bodies including rivers and lakes are drying. Our water bodies are not upto the mark. For the rest of the parties we discussed issues of conservation, particularly, rivers and lakes and ponds. Each and every water body should have safe and clean water for entire society. India will have initiative into that,” he said, adding that the objective of the BRICS Ministers discussion was to find a solution to the problems.

“We have all agreed that we should work on this and we have formulated a group which will exchange their views. We can have bi-lateral efforts to conserve rivers and ponds or we can have multi-lateral efforts or individual countries can work on that,” Mr. Dave said.

To a question on how his Ministry was walking the tight rope at home between environmental conservation and the need for development, especially the clamour from coastal States over flexibility in going for development in Coastal Regulation Zone areas, Mr. Dave said that he was for a fine balance, neither “for development at the cost of environment nor for no development in the name of environmental degradation.”

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