Millennium Post

43% area facing desertification in HP, Shimla warming rate on rise

Shimla: Chief Secretary Srikant Baldi on Tuesday conveyed state's anguish to Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) over two to three-year delays in granting its approvals to 'muck dumping' sites for key infrastructure and development projects.

Baldi held the view that selection and approval of the muck dumping sites should be left to the state, and powers to approve such sites be delegated to the state.

"This is a strange thing that it talks such a long to grant approvals to sites where muck/debris be dumped suitably. The MoEF must treat proper disposal of the muck by the state agencies as environmental service and give powers to the state to handle this issue," he said. Baldi was speaking at the inaugural session of a two-day workshop of media professional, organised by Sunita Narain led Delhi-based environment organisation Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) to upgrade skills of journalists on the environment and climate change reporting from 'Global hotspot' Himachal Pradesh.

The Chief Secretary said the government was fully committed to environmental protection and has a series of path-breaking steps like a complete ban on plastic. The government 's resolve is to make Himachal Pradesh plastic-free in the next coming months.

He also spoke about the excessive use of pesticides, insecticides and fertilizers, which are entering the food chain and resulting in new diseases.

During the workshop Richard Mahapatra, a development journalist and Managing Director of "Down to Earth" said Himachal Pradesh, or even Himalayan region, was showing signs of climate change. There are more extreme weather conditions, droughts and desertification happening in the state, which going to be hard hit by climate change.

"Kangra, for example, has not received its normal rainfall during the past 15 years. For the first time in higher hills, people are seeing nomads. The nomads are clueless, changing route and time evolved over a hundred years ago. Apples, of course, are now being produced at a higher level and farmers in lower altitude are opting other crops.

Snowfall has drastically decreased in Himachal Pradesh and rain and hailstorms have increased over the last 25 years," he explained.

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