Maharashtra State Action Plan on Climate change: Farmers Suffer, State and consultant TERI unaffected

Even as rural areas in otherwise-drought hit Maharashtra (as also in neighbouring areas of Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh) are trying to cope with the immense damages due to untimely rain and hailstorms in Feb-March 2014, the IPCC Assessment Report 5 by Working Group II warns that extreme weather events may increase in their frequency. This was also supported by the IPCC Special Report on Extreme Events in 2012.

Sr No Event Date
1 NAPCC made public June 30, 2008
2 Mah state council on CC formed by a GR Sept 2008
3 Work awarded to TERI “to assess Climate Change Vulnerability and Adaptation Strategies for Maharashtra State and to prepare a Climate Change Adaptation Action Plan for the State” at the cost of Rs 98 lakhs; to include six case studies Aug 20, 2009
4 Maharashtra govt order regarding TERI (6 members in addition to Dr Pachauri and Dr Leeana Srivastava as advisors) given above task, along with Met office, Hadley Centre, UK (2 members) and formation of state coordination committee for this under the chairmanship of Chief Secretary Nov 26, 2009
5 Dept of Environment conducted decision makers workshop CC adaptation and mitigation Feb 24-25, 2011
6 State advisory committee on CC created with chief minister as chair July 8, 2011
7 First meeting of State advisory committee on CC Feb 2013
8 Meeting (latest) held on draft climate change action plan with Chief Secy in chair Oct 7, 2013
9 Mah Env department gives RTI response to SANDRP: “The final action plan on climate change is not yet submitted by TERI to Govt of Maharashtra” Apr 2, 2014

Back to back in two years, Maharashtra faced a drought (in 2012-13), touted to be worst in past 40 years, to a hail and rain event which broke records of past hundred years (and perhaps even more) several times over. Studies are pointing out that the coastal region and the traditionally drought-affected part of Marathwada and Vidarbha is specifically vulnerable to climate change.

Drought 2013. Photo: Mint

Drought 2013. Photo: Mint

It is also highlighted by the IPCC reports, experienced painfully by Maharashtra that: “Risks are unevenly distributed and are generally greater for disadvantaged people and communities in countries at all levels of development.”

So how prepared is Maharashtra to face, adapt to and mitigate the challenges put forth?

Information obtained by SANDRP under RTI underlines the fact that respective governments have given no priority, time or importance to consider climate change or its impacts on societies and ecosystems.

The Maharashtra State Council on Climate change was formed in Sept 2008 by a GR, its Chairperson was the then Chief Minister and included ministers from Agriculture, Water resources, Industries, etc. This Council awarded work related to State Action Plan on Climate Change to TERI on 20th Aug 2009 and TERI was supposed to complete this Study in two years,  that is by Aug 2011.

More than four and a half years latter, TERI has still not completed the report on State Action Plan on Climate change and Government of Maharashtra does not seem too bothered by it.

The process by which TERI was given the task of doing the SAPCC also seems inappropriate. The process is described in Maharashtra government order of Nov 16, 2009, where there is no mention of any competitive bidding. The order says that Dr RK Pachauri of TERI was  asked to make a presentation on climate change in Maharashtra, based on which it was decided to give the task of preparing the SAPCC to TERI and Met Office, UK at the cost of Rs 98 lakhs. This is clearly inappropriate process.

It’s been 5 years since the National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC) was made public in June 2008. NAPCC itself was formulated in non-transparent, non-participatory way by Prime Minister’s Council on Climate Change.  Several States have submitted and are working towards their Action Plans.

In Feb 2011, Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan announced Advisory committee on Climate change similar to PM’s council on CC. However, the Government Resolution for the State Council on CC came only on 8th July 2011. Some its  current 19  members include Chief Minister (chair), Deputy Chief Minister,  Ministers of Environment, Agriculture, Water resources, Rural Development, Chief Secretary, Secy-Environment, etc. Some Expert members include Sunita Narain, Jamshed Godrej, Anu Agha, Dr. R.K. Pachauri, Dr. R. A. Mashelkar, Dr. Anil Kakodkar and Ajay Mathur from Bureau of Energy Efficiency.

The Terms of Reference of the Committee indicate the following duties:

(a) To evaluate the study being done by TERI in the State and recommend strategies. (Emphasis added)

(b) Provide an oversight to the State Government in the drafting an action plan to combat climate change;

(c) To ensure a co-ordinated response to all issues relating to climate change.

This council was to meet “at least twice a year to review situation on CC and adaptation strategy” as per the GR. It has met just once in last 33 months.

After giving contract to TERI in 2009, announcing State Council on CC in 2011, the first and only meeting of the State Council on Climate Change happened only in Feb 2013! Minutes of the meeting claim that final report from TERI is expected in March 2013. However, there was no discussion on this important report or even a discussion to hasten the formulation and implementation of this report. Strangely, TERI and MET Office UK had already published a note on the Action Plan in 2012[1] itself, when the State Action Plan is still not final even today!

There is also issue of conflict of interest here: when TERI is given the task of preparing Maharashtra SAPCC, how can Dr. Pachauri, who heads TERI be on the State Council to oversee the preparation of SAPCC? Secondly, Dr. Pachauri is a member of PM’s Council on Climate Change, which recommends state action plans and then his own organisation, TERI is awarded the work to prepare the action plan for Maharashtra. Is not there a conflict of interest here?

Moreover, Sunita Narain and Dr. Pachauri are also members of PM’s Council on Climate Change and having seen the performance of PMCCC in bringing out business as usual NAPCC in non-transparent, non-participatory way. The state government should have appointed independent members who have knowledge of the state.

The minutes of the first meeting of the state council seem to suggest that the meeting had rather unfocused discussions. The meeting had interesting conclusion: “All the members Council were of the opinion that the implementation of the existing schemes/ plans need to be focused on climate change adaptation strategies and did not encourage going in for further studies.” In spite of such a clear conclusion, we see neither the state action plan in place, nor adaptation of the existing schemes/ plans with the climate change implications in Maharashtra. In fact, Sunita Narian was also member of the Kasturirangan committee on Western Ghats, but we see no effective reflection of climate change concerns in the conclusions of the Kasturirangan committee.

The Chief Minister said in conclusion, “Providing income support to farmers was of utmost importance to the Government. A special “Climate Change Cell” would be established in the state to focus on climate change issues”. There is no evidence of functioning of any such cell, more than a year after that meeting.

There have been some meetings of High Powered Committee on climate changed, headed by Chief Secretary, the latest meeting happed on Oct 7, 2013.

The minutes of the Oct 2013 meeting notes, “The officers of the disaster management department were attending the meeting for the first time, which according to the Chief Secretary was not very useful given that they do not have any background in the subject area as well as the previous discussions.” Considering how important is the role of disaster management in climate change context, this callousness of disaster management department seems disturbing. The minutes also noted the need for additional Rs 40 lakhs to get run off (hydrology) data.

The minutes of the meeting ends with this conclusion: “Chief Secretary instructed TERI, to finish the consultations with respective departments for validations of data and finalise the recommendations within a month time, post which the presentation could be made before the cabinet.” However, that was in Oct 2013, but even in April 2014, there is no sign of the State Action Plan on Climate Change, an exercise that has dragged on for over 4 and half years now.

While all this has been going on without any conclusion, action plan or implementation of any necessary actions, the millions of the vulnerable people of the state are suffering and more than 20 farmers have committed suicide in the face of inconsolable loss.

The State Action Plan on Climate change is not a magic wand that will cure all ills. It is, however, one of the indicators of the seriousness and intent of our administration in tackling the real and grave challenges. Right now, there seems to be no seriousness and no intent.

 -Parineeta Dandekar, Himanshu Thakkar

parineeta.dandekar@gmail.com, ht.sandrp@gmail.com

 

END NOTES:

 

[1] http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/media/pdf/c/a/GOM_brochure_for_web.pdf

2. https://sandrp.wordpress.com/2014/03/11/maharashtra-farmers-face-impacts-of-hailstorms-and-states-inaction-plan-on-climate-change/

3. https://sandrp.wordpress.com/2014/04/03/dams-are-not-climate-friendly-readings-from-ipcc-wg-ii-report/

4. VERY TRAGIC story of how hailstorms have hit poor farmers in Marathawada in Maharashtra: http://www.livemint.com/Specials/jkcra6zQqMShlFJjzmvXeN/Death-and-despair-in-hailstormhit-Marathwada.html

2 Comments on “Maharashtra State Action Plan on Climate change: Farmers Suffer, State and consultant TERI unaffected

  1. I am happy the last sentence is written -that the Action Plan is no magic wand. After all which expert would have predicted Hail Storm in March end in the central India? may be a financial mitigation can be thought, and nothing else. Exact effects of climate change will keep coming out till 2016 or so, when things will reach a tipping point. Till then we can keep criticizing each other and put on Air Conditioners for our comforts !!

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  2. Madam I m shocked by traveling through the contents.. In furtherance to that it’s a fact that the earlier government was in lack of not only willpower but also understanding of such proposals.. We expect this government will do it… Regards… Ravindra Pathak. 9049924444

    Like

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