Tag Archives: Climate Change

Earth Day 2017: Are we doing enough for our Mother Earth?

This year’s theme is ‘Environmental and Climate Literacy’ which seeks to “empower everyone with the knowledge to inspire action in defense of environmental protection.” Decide your own contribution when you celebrate ‘Earth Day’ on April 22

Nagpur Municipal Corporation (NMC) institutionalized an innovative system for the betterment of environment in 2016. It officially promoted and made available cow-dung cakes for cremation at one of the ghats. It is almost one year since the facility was adopted by the NMC and the number of families choosing to go green when bidding good bye to their dear ones is increasing day by day. Using cow-dung cakes has not just proved to be cost-effective but also saves trees from being cut.

The brain behind this was Vijay Limaye of the Eco-friendly Living Foundation (ELF), who has been propagating the concept through his NGO at various ghats. In about 10 months, when more than 300 persons were burnt using the eco-friendly materials such as cow-dung and/or briquettes made from agro-waste. The initiative has received a huge response from Nagpur residents and the facility is in the process of being replicated at other cremation sites in the city.

Far away from Nagpur, in drought-prone Marathwada, a bunch of Jain people, mostly from Mumbai, were striving hard to bring relief to the drought-stressed farming community across 60 villages. Samasta Mahajan, an organization of few individuals from the business community, poured in its heart to de-silt scores of lakes, deepen hundreds of ponds and help large number of farmers dig farm-ponds in their land. This was followed up by plantation of lakhs of indigenous varieties of trees such as banyan, neem, peepal, mango, tamarind, baheda and karanj etc. to alleviate the drought related problems faced by the farming community.

Our Mother Earth

Recognising and acknowledging that Mother Earth is a common expression for the planet earth in a number of countries and regions across the globe, which “reflects the interdependence that exists among human beings, other living species and the planet we all inhabit”, the United Nations General Assembly decided to designate April 22 as the International Mother Earth Day in 2009. The United Nations believes that “the landmark Paris Agreement on Climate Change in conjunction with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development holds the power to transform our world.”

The theme for 2017 campaign – Environmental and Climate Literacy – is an apt step to club the two major plans of action agreed upon by world leaders. Top leaders from 196 countries signed the Paris Agreement wherein they all agree to limit the global temperature rise to well below 2 degrees Celsius and given the extreme urgency of the situation, to strive for 1.5 degrees Celsius. The changing climate has already started manifesting as there has been a steady rise in the number of climate related disasters.

Governments of the world, including the government of India, have announced to take several measures to combat disasters that are wrought on the humanity due to changes in the climatic conditions. India’s federal structure makes participation by the state governments necessary in all such endeavours. Maharashtra government too has charted out its Action Plan for combating Climate Change.

Rivers are important water resources and need to be conserved

For instance, among other sector-wise issues, the 300-plus page document mentions possible impact of climate change on water resources in the state – such as ‘projected increase in rainfall in the form of heavy precipitation events’ and ‘increase in surface run offs in certain catchments’. It then goes on to recommend ‘conservation and re-naturalisation of rivers and water bodies’, ‘enhancement of water storage and groundwater recharge’ and ‘improvement of water use efficiency’ and charts out a proper action plan for steps to be taken for mitigating this problem and also in adapting to the situations arising out of it.

Individual’s contribution

But more than what the governments are doing, it becomes imperative for each one of us to contribute in whichever way we can. (See box for what you can do?) Not just adults but even children/students need to be aware of what can be the consequences of the changes in climatic conditions, of its unprecedented threat to our Mother Earth. Awareness will come from education and empowerment through knowledge. Knowledge will inspire people to take adequate action. “Environmental and climate literacy is the engine not only for creating green voters and advancing environmental and climate laws but also for accelerating green technologies and jobs,” the United Nations has declared.

Each one of us is duty bound to first gain knowledge about causes that lead to rise in global temperature which in turn brings about disastrous climate changes. Next, we need to empower others with that knowledge so that each one of is aware of the pitfalls and can take a conscious decision to improve chances of a better world for our tomorrow.

“Ensuring adequate public participation is central to the design and implementation of any SAPCC,”, the Maharashtra state action plan to combat climate change states and declares: “Effective climate action on adaptation requires general public awareness and community involvement. There is potential for key roles to be played by women, the youth, NGOs and community leaders.”

Perfect opportunity for spreading ‘Environmental and Climate Literacy.’ Remember, you need to work to save yourselves, your future. Are you ready?

What can an individual do for his bit for Mother Earth?

Some simple and some not-so-simple steps for ordinary citizens

** Adopt sustainable lifestyle – e.g. reduce energy consumption as much as possible
** Build green buildings rather than opting for glass facades
** Cycle to your office or take public transport, discard your own polluting-fuel vehicle
** Make online bill payments, reduce paper usage
** Do not pollute the rivers and the mountains as citizens, as tourists
** Save every drop of water – in your kitchen, bathroom and in open/common areas
** Harvest rainwater falling on your roof top, in your garden, in your farmland
** Plant trees as often as you can and in as many numbers as you can
** Recycle things to reduce garbage/waste, turn waste into energy
** Shift to solar and/or other renewable energy

This write up was carried by Maharashtra Ahead, the official publication of DGPIR of Maharashtra Government in its April 2017 issue. The following images show how it appeared in the print edition.

Maharashtra Ahead April 2017 – Page 1-2

Are we going to wait till nature says — ‘I told you so’ !!!

Amid clamour for development, there are warnings for even the blind persons to see and deaf to hear. But is the government hell bent on pursuing a “wrong model of development”?


Garhwal Himalayas witnessed widespread destruction in June 2013 deluge (Photo: www.uttarakhandpanorama.com)

Suddenly all the headlines of the stories I had done and read cautioning about a looming earthquake to hit the Valley flashed right in front of my eyes. What we had dreaded for years but only gave thought on Earthquake Safety Days and anniversary of the great earthquake of 1934 was unfolding right in front of us now.”

Bhrikuti Rai, my journalist friend from Nepal wrote this on April 25 in the middle of the night as she kept vigil with her brother in wake of the 7.8 magnitude disastrous earthquake that had hit the Himalayan Kingdom. “This was the big earthquake we had all dreaded for years,” she had written in her blog.

It was a déjà vu moment for me. In June 2014 – a year after the devastating 2013 cloudburst followed by flash floods and landslides in Uttarakhand – I had exactly these thoughts swell up in my mind as I drove up the winding road parallel to the Bhagirathi. Travelling towards Gangotri, as I passed the site of the now-stopped Lohari Nagpala hydro-power project, the rubble that still lay strewn along the approach road to the project site still reminded of the last year’s fury. The scratched mountain faces as portions were swallowed by flash floods made for a horrible spectacle in the otherwise scenic Bhairo Ghati, one of the worst affected areas around Harsil, near Gangotri, as the vehicle made a steady climb up on the precariously narrow newly built road.

As if, the nature was mocking at every passing human being: “I told you so.” It was during June 15-17, 2013 when Uttarakhand, especially the Kedarnath region witnessed massive flash floods and landslides due to cloudburst leading to large-scale devastation downstream killing more than 5,000 people, destructing properties worth crores of rupees and above all, altering the topography of the region in a large scale.

Much water has flown down the Bhagirathi and the other tributaries of the Ganga. Post Nepal earthquake, the debate of having hydro-power projects in the seismically sensitive Himalayas is being re-ignited, mostly by environmentalists, who want the authorities to take cognizance of the empirical evidence available to prevent similar disasters even as the powers that be choose to ignore the warnings and pursue pro-hydro-power companies’ policies.

The free-flowing rapids of the Himalayan rivers bring down with them muck, debris and varied flora along with it. The existing series of hydro-power projects have already reduced the carrying capacity of the rivers and anthropogenic activities in and around the reservoirs only add to the potential of the possible disaster. It is nobody’s guess as to why should the government pay heed to the numerous studies and committees that have time and again suggested how more hydro-power projects can be suicidal for the ecologically fragile Himalayas, how these are destructing the aviral (continuous) flow of the rivers.

April and May’s Nepal earthquakes have only added to the list of don’ts for the hill state. As per a report published by The Third Pole, the 110 MW Rasuwagadhi Hydropower project on the Nepal-China border was destroyed by the Nepal quake prompting China to evacuate more than 200 of its construction workers stranded at the site. The incident had prompted fresh doubts and debates about the viability of hydro-power projects in the seismic zones.

The Expert Body (EB) lead by senior ecologist and director of the People’s Science Institute, Dehra Doon, constituted in October 2013 in wake of the June devastation earlier in that year, had in its report ‘Assessment of environmental degradation and impact of hydroelectric projects’ submitted in April 2014 had clearly said the existing and the under construction hydro-power projects had indeed increased the proportion of the disaster.


Devastation like these would be common if we fail to respect nature (Photo: www.uttarakhandpanorama.com)

The Centre has changed its stand much often on the issue of allowing hydropower projects in the Himalayan belt. The Uttarakhand government too has been a partner in crime, if not for anything else, for a simple reason of not having a clear policy on the issue. It is high time the state took a call and made public its stand about what kind of development model it wishes to pursue?

The state would do good to recall another Himalayan disaster that had unfolded in the Kashmir valley in September 2014. Excessive rainfall over a week had led to one of the worst floods of the century killing more than 150 people and causing huge losses to property and goods as large areas remained inundated for more than one month. Even though the government authorities, especially the India Meteorological Department, were reluctant to term it as an impact of climate change, the fifth Assessment Report (AR5) of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has already talked of changes in precipitation in high altitudes, which it warned is set to increase.

Intensified hydrological cycle means fewer rainy days but those with more intense rainfall. Same is applicable for Uttarakhand. There are warnings for even the blind persons to see and deaf to hear, but the government seems to be hell bent on pursuing a wrong model of development.

So, do the hills which reverberated with the pioneering Chipko Andolan few decades ago, want to continue on the self-destructing path of ‘power’ oriented development model as pursued by conventional logic leading to pro-Corporate policies? Or, does the relatively younger state wants to vote for an ecologically sustainable model, which may not bring in the green notes for the cash-strapped economy (tourism and pilgrimage have suffered because of these natural disasters) but will help live up to its moniker of Devbhoomi.

This article first appeared on September 1, 2015 on www.uttarakhandpanorama.com and it can be read here

India claims plan for new energy mix is a game-changer

The huge India One solar thermal power plant in Rajasthan. Image: Bkwcreator via Wikimedia Commons
The huge India One solar thermal power plant in Rajasthan.
Image: Bkwcreator via Wikimedia Commons

While the political spotlight focused on the  world’s two biggest polluters − China and the US − in the run-up to the Lima climate talks, pressure is mounting on India to set emissions targets to help prevent the planet overheating.

NEW DELHI, 10 December, 2014 − India’s contribution to global carbon emissions was only 7% last year, yet there are fears being expressed in the western world that rapid population growth and development will mean this vast country will soon be a major polluter − like its neighbour, China.

For the world, it is a continued worry that if the country soon to have the largest population in the world develops − as China has − by burning coal, climate change will surely get out of control.

No commitments on climate change have so far been made by India, as it waits to see what the developed countries offer to prove they are serious about aid, technology transfer, and targets to reduce their own emissions.

Carbon tax

But while priority in India has been given to development − particularly providing electricity for the millions who live without it − and tackling poverty, the newly-elected government has made a promising start on recognising the importance of climate change.

It has a new energy policy centred on an ambitious increase in solar power capacity − from the current 20,000 megawatts to 100,000 MW in five years. There is a Rupees 5 billion ($80 million) budget this year alone for “ultra mega” solar projects. And a carbon tax on coal has also been doubled for the purpose of subsidising solar and other renewables.

Prakash Javadekar, India’s Environment, Forests and Climate Change minister, said before heading for the UN climate change conference being held in Lima, Peru: “This game-changer energy mix will give us enhanced energy efficiency and save 50 million tonnes of coal. That’s a huge contribution to the world, and will affect our emissions. We will walk the clean water, clean air, clean power path.”

“Both solar and coal power will increase,
but that is our energy mix”

There have been reports about a possible announcement next month – when US president Barack Obama visits New Delhi − of the year in which India intends its greenhouse gas emissions to peak.

However, Javadekar refused to set a timeline, despite the apparent pressure after the US-China joint declaration that the US will reduce emissions by 2025 and China’s will peak by 2030. All countries are supposed to inform the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) by March 2015 of their action plans for emission reductions.

Javadekar said India is putting in place several action plans for achieving the Intended Nationally Determined Contributions as part of the 2015 agreement. But he made clear that the “peaking year” will not be the benchmark set at Lima; it will be “India’s contribution” − and will be much more than expected.

India, which is expected to surpass China’s current 1.3 billion population by 2030, has always defended its position, as its emissions are less than 2 tonnes per capita, compared with about 7.2 tonnes in China and 16.4 tonnes in the US.

“Our growth cannot be compromised,” Javadekar said. “We have the right to develop, and our priority is to eliminate poverty and meet the aspirations.”

Objections raised

Asked how India will address objections raised by developed countries to it digging more dirty coal, despite its ambitious solar programme, Javadekar insisted: “We are not going on the ‘business as usual’ path − although we are entitled to it. Both solar and coal power will increase, but that is our energy mix. We are doing our own actions under domestic legislations.”

There is a rift at the Lima talks between the developed and the developing countries on the issue of capitalisation of the Green Climate Fund under the 2015 Paris agreement, and this has already seen the G77 group of nations banding together.

Sunita Narain, director general of the Delhi-based Centre for Science and Environmentthinktank, referred to this in talking about the “politics of climate change”, and how the global south is being short-changed by the global north.

She said climate change talks are about achieving clean economic growth, but, 25 years after talks began, the world is “still procrastinating and finding excuses not to act”. – Climate News Network

(This was originally published by Climate News Network on December 10, 2014 and it can be read here http://www.climatenewsnetwork.net/india-claims-plan-for-new-energy-mix-is-a-game-changer/?utm_source=Climate+News+Network&utm_campaign=dae4c97efd-India_s_new_energy_mix12_10_2014&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_be2a364987-dae4c97efd-38585141

South Asia slow to act on water threats

The Ganges river delta in Bangladesh and India Image NASA World Wind via Wikimedia Commons

Satellite image of the vast Ganges river delta in Bangladesh and India
Image: NASA World Wind via Wikimedia Commons

A study of the five countries sharing and relying on the Indian sub-continent’s great rivers shows that Bangladesh is the only one that is taking climate change seriously

Even before this year’s delayed and inadequate monsoon recently brought some relief to the Indian sub-continent, researchers discovered widespread concern by local experts that their governments are mismanaging the water supplies on which a billion people depend for survival, and giving insufficient attention to climate change.

A new report, Attitudes to Water in South Asia, explores domestic water management and transboundary water issues in five countries – Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, Nepal and Pakistan. It focuses on two river systems, the Ganges-Brahmaputra-Meghna and the Indus-Kabul basins, which are vital to the lives of a vast population.

Chatham House – the home of the Royal Institute of International Affairs − worked on the report with India’s Observer Research Foundation, and similar partner organisations in the other four countries. Their findings are based on evidence from almost 500 interviews conducted in the five countries in 2013 with a range of water experts, government officials, policy-makers and decision-makers from NGOs and the private sector.

Observing that water is “highly politicised in the region, with strong links to food security and the livelihoods of the large proportion of the population dependent on agriculture”, the report underscores the relation between the domestic mismanagement of water in each country and the failure to address transboundary water relations.

Few agreements

“In spite of the shared river system and the interdependencies, South Asian governments have signed few bilateral water agreements and no regional ones,” the report says. “Those transboundary water treaties that do exist face criticism on a number of grounds: for time periods too short to too long; and for their lack of provision for environmental factors or new challenges, such as climate change.”.

Yet the ability of countries in South Asia to deal with the possible effects of climate change will be in part determined by their ability to manage water, and also how they deal with weather events such as floods and droughts.

“The majority . . .  expressed concern that their governments
were giving the issue of climate change insufficient attention”

While many respondents across the region felt that other immediate concerns were more pressing, the majority of those interviewed expressed concern that their governments were giving the issue of climate change insufficient attention,” said Gareth Price, a senior research fellow at Chatham House and lead author of the report.

For instance, in Afghanistan, even where respondents had some knowledge of the body responsible for setting government-wide policy on climate change, they were equally certain that the amount of practical action on ground was virtually zero.

In Bangladesh, where most respondents were acutely aware of climate change and its possible effects, many said their government was doing better. There was a general consensus that ministers had made climate change a priority by setting aside funds for adaptation and mitigation.

However, Afghani and Bangladeshi respondents noted the lack of availability of important policy documents − currently available only in English − in local languages..

And Indian respondents felt that climate change was not a major priority for the government, although it was widely recognised that it could wreak havoc on the country.

“Inadequate water storage leaving farmers vulnerable to the vagaries of weather suggest an urgent need for appropriate investment in such facilities in order to not just increase agriculture production, but also to ensure farmers have an option to adjust to changing climate,” the report says.

Food security

Climate change could also have a big impact on the transboundary water relations, the report warns. Some respondents from India and Bangladesh feared that a variation in the timing and intensity of monsoons could affect agricultural production and weaken food security, “driving tension between the two countries over access to water in a dry period”.

Interviewees from Nepal perceived climate change as a “future threat”, in comparison with immediate challenges and the need to increase access to water and electricity. Most respondents felt that Nepal’s approach was “inadequate” and pointed out the gap between national plans and local implementation.

Pakistani respondents believed their country’s approach to climate change lacked “urgency”. They particularly pointed out that a Ministry of Climate Change had recently been reduced to a mere division of another ministry, and had had its funding slashed by 62%.

Brink of cataclysm

The report quoted a climate change expert working with the Pakistan government, who said his country stood on the brink of an environmental cataclysm, with the seasonal monsoon shifting away from traditional catchment areas towards Afghanistan. “This trend, reinforced by climate change, [has]increased the likelihood of extraordinary rainfall patterns, cloudbursts, and flash floods,” he said.

The researchers’ recommendations Include: improving domestic water management, and rainwater harvesting; enhancing data collection, data sharing and discussions between the five countries, particularly in relation to floods and droughts, and the management of watersheds and river basins; easing water demand through less water-intensive crops and irrigation methods.

They also stress that existing treaties should be revisited, ensuring that they address technological advances, environmental factors and climate change. – Climate News Network

(This was first published by Climate News Network on July 7, 2014 and it can be read at http://www.climatenewsnetwork.net/2014/07/south-asia-slow-to-act-on-water-threats/ )

People’s Climate March in Delhi

The World Meterological Organisation (WMO) declared 2001-2010 as the ‘Decade of Climate Extremes’. Then we had Uttarakhand disaster in 2013 and we are still dealing with the recent massive floods in Jammu & Kashmir . Experts tell us that an increasingly erratic and damaging change in the global and regional climate systems has already started impacting vulnerable people in ever larger numbers, in many societies and countries, to ever greater extent.

‘People’s Climate March’ on Saturday, September 20, 2014 in Delhi is being held to send out a strong message to the governments that people are no longer willing to accept the weak and wrong actions on this front. “The governments – both at the Centre and the states – need to take swift and decisive action on climate change, both on the Adaptation and Mitigation fronts. There is an urgent need to understand and act on ‘nature-denying development’ policies in the context of climate change. Failing to do so will certainly lead to undesirable results of the development mantra that almost all governments have adopted,” said Soumya Dutta of Beyond Copenhagen Collective (BCPH), an advocacy group on Climate Change.

From college students to ricksha-walas, from school students to daily wagers, from artists to working professionals, resident welfare associations, NGO representatives and those associated with One Billion Rising network are set to join the ‘People’s Climate March’ on Saturday, September 20, 2014.

Across the World:

September 20 & 21 will see thousands of rallies, marches and protests simultaneously across the world delivering the biggest ever global demonstration for climate action in history. More than 1,500 ‘People’s Climate’ events are planned worldwide in 136 countries. The largest rally will be in New York where over 1,50,000 people are expected to come together to demand leaders take action in advance of the Ban Ki Moon climate summit that will take place two days later. (peoplesclimate.org)

The UN summit is designed to build momentum for national and international climate action, including a new global climate treaty that will be finalized in Paris next year. “Action, Not Words” will be watch-word for the organizers at the summit.

So, if you care for the Mother Earth, if you are worried about the climate change and want to do something, join the People’s Climate March in Delhi or anywhere you are across the globe. If there is none happening, you organise one. After all, if we are expecting the governments to do ‘Action, Not Words’, we too need to be pro-active.

Erratic rain, rising temperatures hit Assam tea gardens

Tea growers in India’s Assam state are worried as production falls due to high temperatures and lack of rain and are looking at ways such as irrigation and planting more shady trees to mitigate the problem

Workers return home after a day's work at Koomsong Tea Eastate.
Workers return home after a day’s work at Koomsong Tea Eastate.

Acres of rolling greens, endless rows of orderly tree shrubs broken by tall, leafy trees, women with bamboo baskets slung on their backs busy plucking tea leaves… To the unsuspecting eye, it is all normal at the Koomsong Tea Estate, one of the many tea gardens in northeast India’s Assam state, famous the world over for its tea.

But things are not as idyllic as they seem with erratic weather changes, irregular rainfall and rising temperatures turning out to be major causes of worry for tea planters, not just in Koomsong but across the state. According to one estimate, there could be a 10% drop in production this year.

Assam produces almost half of India’s tea and growers are getting progressively more stressed about the changing climatic conditions over the last decade and wondering how best to fight it.

Typically, rain in northeast India starts at the end of March. In a normal year, tea estates would have completed 30% of their annual production by the end of June. The next round generally continues from July through November-December, accounting for the rest of the production.

But the last years have seen unequal rainfall distribution, which also means heavy rainfall in a month followed by an unusual dry spell. The rising temperature is another cause of worry. The meticulous records maintained at Koomsong, for instance, reveal that temperatures in June have being inching up – from a maximum temperature of 33.16 degrees Celsius in 1996, 33.92 degrees Celsius in 2003 to 34.26 degrees Celsius in 2013. There has also been a lot of variation in annual precipitation figures and average per month precipitation, especially in those critical days during the first or second harvest. The heavy rainfall washes away top soil in the tea gardens while dry spells lead to an increase in pests.

“In fact, more than erratic rainfall, it is the rising temperature that is affecting our production. Rising atmospheric temperature increases soil temperature and the soil gets dry faster,” said Vivek Seth, senior manager at Koomsong.

Seth says one should not to be fooled by data showing increase in annual production. That is only because the area under cultivation has increased over the years. However, yield per hectare has steadily declined. Koomsong’s area has increased from 529 hectares in 1985 to 707 hectares in 2013, while production per hectare has fallen from 2755 kg to 2047 kg per hectare.

The tea industry is worried.

According to government data, a few showers in February ensured a good crop in March but rainfall in March and April was scanty. There was just 71 mm rain from January-April against the crop requirement of around 310 mm for this period, leading to extremely dry and arid conditions. Rainfall in Upper Assam was down by 49% while it was down by 25% in Lower Assam. “The drought resulted in an estimated 25-30% loss of crops in Assam in April and May,” said S. Soundararajan, the Kolkata-based director at the Tea Board of India, a body under the union commerce and industry ministry.

Forced to adapt

The extreme variation in climate – disturbing the trend of generally high and equally distributed precipitation – has forced tea growers to adapt to changes. Turning to irrigation to minimise the adverse impact of rising temperatures and erratic rainfall patterns is one option and increasing areas of shade is another.

It is here that the Tea Research Association’s (TRA) Tocklai Experimentation Station in the Assam town of Jorhat steps in. “We provide rainfall and temperature data, we provide remedial measures such as how to combat or mitigate drought using irrigation methods. It can be sprinkler or drip. Then we advise on the use of various indigenous plants for fighting pests and also guide on various pest control measures,” said TRA director Dr N. Muralidharan.

Another long-term measure is the development of a drought-resistant tea shrub species.

Tea growers have started taking measures to fight the effects of climate change with help from Tocklai. As has been done by several tea estates in the area, Koomsong has also started creating its own micro-climate. This includes planting tall trees in between and along the edges of the plantation to protect tea shrubs and reduce air temperature. More than 30,000 trees were planted this year alone. Another measure is to use a formulation of local herbs and plants rather than chemical pesticides.

Seth said he hasn’t started irrigation yet, given the huge size of tea gardens (tea estates are generally spread over areas upwards of 300 hectares). “Irrigation cannot be a substitute for rainfalls. It can only help reduce our losses.”

Irrigation, however, is increasingly being looked at as an option. The central government offers a subsidy for setting up irrigation systems, said Soundararajan.

Government failing to protect tea growers

A continuing problem is that the tea crop cannot be insured. The premiums are too high due to the vast tracts under cultivation.

Government agencies have restricted their support to providing subsidies for irrigation and/or helping with pesticides. But there is simply no compensation in the event of a major hailstorm, for instance. A massive hailstorm on May 14, 2012 hit Koomsong, resulting in severe damages. Production could recover only in August.

Despite the central allocation of a separate fund for climate change in this year’s budget, there are no funds for Assam’s tea industry. Stating that climate change was a reality that all must face together, finance minister Arun Jaitley had announced in this year’s budget speech, “Agriculture as an activity is most prone to the vagaries of climate change. To meet this challenge, I propose to establish a ‘National Adaptation Fund’ for climate change. As an initial sum, an amount of Rs.100 crore will be transferred to the Fund.”

But none of this is coming to Assam’s tea gardens. Rajib Barooah, chairperson of theAssam Tea Planters Association (ATPA), said “We receive no compensation whatsoever in case of losses due to climatic changes. For instance, if the government declares a drought the agriculture sector – for instance paddy in Assam – gets the benefits but not the tea industry. Possibly because we come under the commerce ministry and not the agriculture ministry.”

Now that this is a recurring occurrence, the industry plans to come together to present a joint front, he said. “We are going to put up a demand to both the ministries. We have several other associations and this is a problem for all (so) the entire industry will have to come together.”

The article was first published by www.thethirdpole.net

(Originally published by http://indiaclimatedialogue.net/ and it can be read at http://indiaclimatedialogue.net/2014/08/14/erratic-rain-rising-temperatures-hit-assam-tea-gardens/)