Down To Earth is a fortnightly magazine focusing on politics of environment and development, published in New Delhi, India.
UPSC Previous years’ questions on Development, Environment, Health and Disaster Management give us a clear idea about the increased importance of DTE magazine.
DTE Magazine is one of the most important and indispensable source for UPSC Civil Services Exam Preparation. Keeping this in mind, here, we come with ”Gist Of Down To Earth Magazine” which covers important environmental current affairs articles in smooth pointed form, keeping in mind the demand of UPSC aspirants.
Springs Make Himalayas: Introduction
- The Union government think tank NITI Aayog estimates that some 60 per cent of the population in the hilly regions depends on springs from Himalayan forests for sustenance, livelihood and ecotourism.
- According to a 2010 study in the journal Science, these springs and surface run-off contribute 57-87 per cent to the river flow that caters to the hills and plains of Punjab along with Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal—major agriculture producers—and other states in the Ganga basin.
- Despite such dependence on forest springs, their conservation has remained a small part of forest protection mandate with the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change and the state forest departments.
Springs Make Himalayas: Key Initiatives by GOI To Protect Himalayas
- In August 2018, NITI Aayog released a working paper proposing a national programme on springshed management in the Himalayan region. It includes strategies at the Central, state and local administration levels to identify and safeguard springsheds with public participation.
- As part of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s 100-day plan launched on July 5, 2019 at the start of his second term, the Union Ministry of Jal Shakti did begin implementing one of the six planned programmes for the rejuvenation of Himalayan springs, but coordinated results are awaited beyond the mapping of springs in pilot districts.
- Apart from broad policy initiatives, ground-level efforts to conserve forest springs by involving local communities and administrations, as seen in Himachal Pradesh, can bring about a holistic change.
Springs Make Himalayas: Incentive-Based Mechanism for Springshed Management
- One way to induce a multi-stakeholder effort is by introducing incentive-based mechanisms to share forest management plans with other sectors.
- In environmental management, incentive-based mechanisms are used to encourage entities to reduce pollution.
- But incentives can also foster positive change in the behaviour of service providers. For instance, in July 2019, at the first Conclave of the Himalayan States, all nine states in this region put forth a proposal asking the Union government to give them financial compensation or a “green bonus” to forego infrastructural development and for maintaining their forest cover.
- The Centre can introduce such a bonus with specific criteria for springshed management, rather than a maintenance of forest cover.
- Incentive-based mechanisms can also be used to coalesce institutional efforts and expand their scope.
Springs Make Himalayas: Involving Multiple Stakeholders to Incentivise Springshed Conservation Efforts
- At the Central level, ministries dealing with agriculture and industries can create resources to incentivise springshed conservation efforts by the Union environment and water resources ministries.
- Similarly, at the state level, chief secretaries of all departments can pool resources to work for forest conservation.
- The same consortium can direct district administrations to pool resources from line departments, private sector, municipal corporations, schools and hotels to support divisional forest management plans.
- Human power can be roped in under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act 2005 for ground-level support.
- At the village level, women groups can be incentivised to spearhead conservation efforts.
- This could also bring forth solutions for forest conservation and create jobs, curbing migration from the hills.
- The private sector can go beyond its corporate social responsibility initiatives, by ensuring recharge of springs and other water sources they use.
Springs Make Himalayas: People’s Participation in Springshed Management
- Proper recharge of springs can not just ensure continuous piped water supply, but also reduce expenses and carbon footprints involved in lift water schemes wherein water is pumped from rivers, lowering bills for suppliers and end-users. This incentivises greater public participation.
- At a time when value derived from forest ecosystem services is reduced to calculations in clearance projects and in tree-planting initiatives, such efforts can ensure benefits for Himalayan states and the communities without sacrificing conservation or development.