'Involve local communities in future discourses on climate change'
Darjeeling: The mountains are under pressure from three interrelated factors, namely climate, hunger and migration.
On International Mountain Day, attending a seminar entitled "Mountains under Pressure: climate, hunger, migration" at the St. Joseph's College on Monday, Prafulla Rao of Darjeeling Himalayan Initiative, the organisers, said: "Climate pattern has drastically changed. There is no winter rain. From October onwards till now there has hardly been any rain. All this has led to acute water shortage in the Hills, despite this area recording one heavy rainfall."
Owing to all this, crops mainly cash crops, have failed in the Hills. "Oranges and important cash crops have nearly disappeared. Tea cultivation is also facing immense problems. Once upon a time there used to be food surplus in the mountains and now there is scarcity. Lack of food and water security along with lack of jobs has prompted migration," stated Rao.
30 to 40 percent youth have already migrated from the mountain villages, claimed Rao.
JNU's Priten Sherpa stated that it is difficult to get data on migration in the Hills. "Data collection is most important as we lack it," he remarked.
"We have to involve the local communities in the future discourses on climate change. Their active participation is also required," added Samir Subedi from the department of Political Science.
Climate, hunger and migration are directly related to anthropogenic pressure, claimed Aniruddha Gurung, a botanist.
Pribar Rai, a scholar from the Sikkim University, feels that climate change is the event, hunger is the cause and migration is the consequence.
The conversation was summarised with an emphasis on the interrelation and complexities of mountains under pressure — climate, hunger and migration and the manifestations in the Darjeeling Hills.
Everyday experiences of climate change were shared including crops growths up the altitude, range shift; increasing landslides.
Concerns were raised regarding high rates of migration, mostly unsafe. The need for further reflection, renewal and redesigning appropriate interventions as pilots were discussed along with the need for proactive data sharing, policy influence and advocacy was expressed.