Odisha climate plan deficiencies: What needs to be done?
The formulation and finalisation of Odisha Climate Change Action Plan (OCCAP) has been a step in right direction. But due to lack of involvement of stakeholders the plan has been directionless and inconclusive.
It is evident that climate change impacts the socially and economically vulnerable disproportionately, especially in those areas prone to natural hazards and disasters. Rural poor, tribals and women in most developing countries are among the most vulnerable as they are highly dependent on the natural environment for their livelihood and other needs. Their deprivation, poverty and inequality undermine the social capital to deal effectively with climate change. In this context, gender equality and women’s empowerment is very important for women to deal with or adapt to the effects of climate change.
Impact on women
Women need to be assimilated while formulatiung policies in areas, including forest, agriculture, water and renewable energy etc. Their views must be taken care of in deliberations on climate change impacts at both the national and international levels. Capacity building for alternative livelihoods is an essential part of climate change adaptation and mitigation.
The possible support could be (1) upgrading of indigenous or traditional knowledge and skills and revitalising it in areas where it has been eroded or diluted, (2) introduction of new knowledge and technologies to support women’s access to new markets and (3) women’s un-mediated access to resources, including land, housing and independent credit. We must implement policies that are responsive to the gender differentiated impact of climate change.
Gender mainstreaming should be promoted at the core of institutions engaged in climate change interventions. There is a need for gender expertise within institutions as well as to engage policy making.
Huge investment (35 per cent of planned budget) in energy sector seems unwarranted and completely motivated by the global corporates.
Generating surplus and augmenting the national grid at the cost of local pollution and climate change hazards is difficult to comprehend. The sectoral plan looks more as a climate change abating plan.
Moratorium on thermal power plant expansion and promotion of alternate and renewable energy is the need of the hour. There is a need to develop an appropriate legal (land administration) framework to tackle eventual coastal displacement and resettlement.
Clear prescription on energy provision and strategy for agriculture especially for protective irrigation requires to be spelled out. Energy strategy for small and microenterprises requires clear mention.
Considering the expected impact on human health, resource allocation seems to be very low. Hospital and municipal waste management should be given more attention. Priority should be given to promotion of local knowledge on health. Simultaneously, home herbal gardens and school or institutional herbal gardens should be promoted. High priority should be given on industrial or occupational health security.
Industries, mostly the types coming to Odisha, are highly water intensive, polluting and energy consuming. The OCCAP mentions that ‘being a mineral rich State, industrial development is focused on metallurgical and other metal-based industries’. However, the civil society does not agree with this thinking. Extraction and use of mineral resources must be planned and executed with proper concern and far sight.
The civil society strongly believes that massive industrialisation of mine based and coal fuelled industries is highly unwarranted and does not serve any benefit to people of Odisha in general. On the contrary, it causes significantly to global warming, degrades living standards of the local people and creates severe health hazards.
Over emphasis has been given on Odisha’s mineral resources, while substantially neglecting its other industrial potentials. It is a pity that Government’s definition of ‘industry’ only includes the polluting, natural resource crushing big industries.
In general, the civil society believes that the suggestions made in the draft CCAP are nominal and weak intended in nature and at best they treat the system, not eliminate the disease itself. The Gandhian principle of industrialisation is still the fittest model and thus has to be applied in practice. Minor changes to present industrialisation model that the Government has adopted will yield no result vis-à-vis climate change in particular and overall development in general.
Impact of industries on local livelihoods and standard of living has to be an integral part of the studies. Non-mineral based industries are given more priority. Moratorium — no more new industries or capacity increase — in high industry intensive clusters is the need of the hour. There should be no more major ports in the coastal areas.
Policing and monitoring has to be strictly enforced. Institutions like Pollution Control Board have to be made free from political interferences. PRI institutions have to be given overriding authority with clear laws and powers. No major industries are allowed anywhere near major water sources. Clear deadlines and measurable indicators have to set for the industries to meet climate change mitigating requirements. All spending made under Corporate Social Responsibility and proposed ‘compensatory’ steps are to be made public immediately. External agencies like the World Bank, DFID, and ADB must not get any scope to play a decisive role in policy formulation.
All studies, trainings and other activities planned in the draft action plan have to be participatory.
As Odisha has one of the largest mineral deposits, the State should lead in implementing a rigorous climate sensitive mining policy.
Unfortunately, that has not come up. The civil society thus calls the Government for a fresh look at the whole exercise and re-do CCAP. It should prepare an atlas of mineral deposits and the problems associated with mining of such resources on environment, local livelihoods, water resources and forest. This activity must apply technologies like the GIS, GPS etc. The Environmental Impact Assessments is prepared by the miners and thus their estimation cannot be trusted without verification.
There should be proactive declaration of the mineral deposits areas where mining will have environmental costs as ‘no mining zones’. Have a clear mining policy, come out with strict laws, enforce monitoring and enforcing agencies with teeth and autonomy. Come out with a detailed study of cost and benefits of the mining done in the past.
Climate change is about to make water status further worse. Moreover, climate change is feared to make water as the chief instrument for causing destructions and disasters. When judged in that context, the draft OCCAP seems to have taken a very narrow vision and has failed to factor in the possible threat levels. It has failed to factor in the disaster angle into the proposed modelling.
For example, it has ignored dam safety issues. All dams and reservoirs — including Hirakud and Rengali — built in Odisha and upstream States are not capable to meet revised design flood flow projection. The action plan is absolutely clueless about such situation. The OCCAP must ask the Government to start activities for preparation of such extreme events as such disasters will have catastrophic impacts.
Besides, the draft CCAP has ignored critical water sector sub-themes like drinking, sanitation, water stress management, pollution of water and ground water management etc. Water quality problems are evolving as a very big threat. It has poor sanitation coverage. Odisha records the highest malaria and water-borne casualty and cases in the country. It has not considered possible remedies of saline water ingress in coastal areas. The draft OCCAP is expected to be a vision document along with clear action points. But sadly, this one does not give any indication of that.
Water resources are yet to be taken in a holistic and integrated manner by the department of water resources. The draft OCCAP has largely been a wish list of ‘Irrigation’ department. And hence, it forgets about drinking water and sanitation which is implemented by the Rural Development Department.
The civil societies urge the Government to admit that the CCAP is still a half-baked project and this draft cannot be accepted. We further urge to make necessary corrections and additions by including true learning and experiences of communities. The most overwhelming aspect is that the Government has to be prepared to provide and maintain water security for its people, which the present action plan has failed to do.
It has to take into account drinking, sanitation and ground water related issues. It has to take into account the issue of ground water use by industries and issues of saline water ingress very seriously. It has to factor in potential of very high intensity water related disasters. Rivers must be allowed to have natural flow. The idea of river water draining into the sea as a ‘waste’ has to be aborted. Minimum interference in river flow has to be assured. Pollution of water must be treated as a serious offence and deterrent measures have to be kept for offenders.
The water plan and State water policy have to be revisited and clear action points be charted therein.ShareThis