Two-day regional workshop on climate change wraps up

Gangtok, 09 May:

Two-day long regional workshop on Mainstreaming Climate Change in Disaster Risk with special reference to Glacial Lake Outburst Flood [GLOF] and Forest Fire in the Himalayas which had kicked off on 08 May concluded here at Chintan Bhawan today.

The workshop was organized by Sikkim State Disaster Management Authority [SSDMA] in collaboration with Swiss Agency for Development & Corporation [SDC], United Nation Development Project [UNDP] and assistance from Indian Institute of Planning and Administration [IIPA], Delhi.

The workshop had eminent personalities and experts from different parts of the country and aboard who talked on GLOF and climate change issues.

Addressing a press conference after the workshop this evening, State Relief Commissioner-cum-Secretary Land Revenue and Disaster Management Department, Tsegyal Tashi mentioned that the two-day long workshop was very successful and informative.

“The workshop discussed various issues related to GOLF and forest fires in detail. The workshop also provided a platform for participants to know about experiences and practices other States and countries,” he shared.

He stated that Sikkim has taken the lead in GLOF and climate change issues.

Mr Tashi further informed that the outcome from deliberations, suggestions and recommendation in the workshop will be documented and will be submitted to NDMA.

SSDMA Vice-Chairman, Prof VK Sharma stated that Sikkim is one of the most disaster prone Himalayan areas in the world. He added that the SSDMA has been working on short term and long term programmes and also promoting organisations working in disaster management.

Professor Sharma mentioned that SSDMA chaired by Chief Minister Pawan Chamling aims to make Sikkim safe environment friendly. He added that the State has taken various environment friendly initiatives. He added that although the State has witnessed increase in forest cover, forest fire is an important issue to deliberate.

He stated that with the climate change there were possibilities for the rise of level of glacier lakes. On the same, he added that GOLF being a relevant issue for the State the purpose of the workshop was to merge the existing technologies, knowledge and experiences and practice together to work effectively. He expressed that workshop also provided an opportunity to learn from experiences of Nepal, Bhutan, Switzerland and other States of India in these areas.

While mentioning that National Disaster Management Authority [NDMA] does not have guidelines for forest fires and GOLF till date, Prof Sharma said, “One of the fruitful outcomes of the workshop is the promise by NDMA Joint Secretary during the workshop to take initiative to write guidelines on these two disasters.”

SDC India Director, Marylaure Crettaz mentioned about various works and initiatives of SDC in Himalayan States included Sikkim especially in field of climate change. She thanked the State government and all stakeholders for their active participation in the workshop to discuss key issues. However, she added that it was not just the task of the government but everyone needs to come forward to address these issues. Speaking on the good outcome of the workshop, she expressed that actively participation from all concerned sides can mitigate these key issues.

UNDP India Assistant Country Director, Preeti Soni spoke about the initiatives of UNDP in the State. She mentioned that the agency has been working in creating awareness and to build capacity of the people in the grassroot level and to work on the spot at the same time. She also asserted that forest fires and GOLF were very relevant for Sikkim and important for climate change and disaster prospective. “The workshop was a good start to bring all concerned stakeholders together to discuss on these important disasters.

Responding to media queries, they stated that these disasters may happen so it cannot be neglected so the awareness and response plans were important to mitigate these disasters.