Recognizing the uniqueness of the Himalayas and the challenges for sustainable development, NITI Aayog had set up 5 Working Groups (WGs) in June 2017 to prepare a roadmap for actions in 5 thematic areas. The themes include Inventory and Revival of Springs in the Himalayas for Water Security, Sustainable Tourism in Indian Himalayan Region, Transformative Approach to Shifting Cultivation, Strengthening Skill & Entrepreneurship Landscape in the Himalayas and Data/Information for Informed Decision Making. While these thematic areas are quite significant for the Himalayas. Mountain specificities require specific solutions for resilience building that address socio-economic and environmental challenges in the mountain setting. The reports from the five working groups discuss the significance, the challenges, the ongoing actions and a future roadmap.
The themes include:
- Inventory and Revival of Springs in the Himalayas for Water Security.
- Sustainable Tourism in Indian Himalayan Region.
- Transformative Approach to Shifting Cultivation.
- Strengthening Skill & Entrepreneurship Landscape in the Himalayas.
- Data/Information for Informed Decision Making.
Highlights of the report:
- Nearly 30% of springs crucial to water security of people are drying and 50% have reported reduced discharge.
- Himalayan Tourism growing annually at 6.8% has created a huge challenge related to solid waste, water, traffic, loss of biocultural diversity etc.
- Spring Mapping and Revival, using 8 steps protocol be taken up across the Himalayan States in a phased manner.
- Apply carrying capacity concept to all major tourist destinations; implement and monitor tourism sector Standards and apply performance-based incentives for States faring well on the standards.
- Assessment of nature & extent of Shifting Cultivation area, improved policy coherence, strengthened tenurial security & improved access to related programs/schemes are other key recommendations to transform shifting cultivation.
- Strengthening of skill & entrepreneurship will require a focus on identified priority sectors where mountains have an advantage, investment in trainers, assessors and training centers in industry partnership.
- Having a Central Data Management Agency for the Himalayas to provide data with high fidelity scenario while addressing data sharing, access, authenticity and comparability issues will go a long way in addressing data related issues.
- Setting up of a Himalayan Authority for coordinated and holistic development of the entire Himalayan region.
- Launching of “Himalaya Calling”: An Awareness to Action Campaign as people’s movement.
- Setting up of Mission on Spring Water Management in the Himalayas, National Mission/Program on Transforming Shifting Cultivation in the North Eastern States, a demand-driven network of skill and entrepreneurship development Centers in the Himalayan States among others.
With the projected arrival of tourists in IHR States to more than double by 2025, urgent actions will be needed to address critical issues of waste management and water crisis in addition to other environmental and social issues.
In the northeastern States, thousands of the households continue to practice slash and burn (shifting cultivation) that need to be addressed in view of ecological, food and nutritional security.
Predominantly unskilled workforce remains a challenge for the mountains as well that need high priority to address the migration of youths. Also, challenges related to data availability, data authenticity, compatibility, data quality, validation, user charges for the Himalayan States need addressal for informed decision making at different levels of governance.