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Indo-Swiss project on climate change impact for Kullu

An Indo-Swiss pilot project to evolve an adaptation strategy to combat the impact of climate change in the Himalayas will be implemented in the environmentally fragile Kullu district.

Besides studying the changes in the status of glaciers, the bilateral project will assess the vulnerability of four selected “hotspots” in different regions of the Beas catchment and devise a strategy to strengthen the resilience of the local community to climate change by imparting knowledge and capacity building.

Besides scientific studies to ascertain the behaviour of glaciers, the status of forest and water resources, growth of tourism and other business and crop pattern, the perception of the local communities about climate change will also be rerecorded to know the impact.

The four selected areas include the upper Beas valley beyond Manali, the lower Beas valley around Kullu, the Parbati valley and the outer Seraj area.

Director of Environment SS Negi said Kullu district was selected as it was environmentally most fragile and with intense human activity due to tourism, power projects and vehicular movement, it had also become extremely vulnerable to climate change.

The methodology for carrying out various studies was discussed at the meeting of the State Advisory Group held here recently in which Swiss experts Andreas Linsbauer, a glaciologist from Fribourg University, and Juan Antonio, Professor from the University of Berne, were also present.

It is the first pilot project for the Indian Himalayas and besides Kullu, Sikkim has been selected for it as the representative of the eastern region. Such studies are being carried out in the Andes in Peru and various mountain ranges in Europe. The project was part of the Indo-Swiss collaboration in glaciology and related areas under the Indian Himalayas Climate Adaptation Programme.

The Swiss partner will not only provide technical assistance, but also scientific equipment for carrying out glaciological studies. Swiss experts advised that automatic weather data collection devices should be installed at glacier sites and permanent markings on ground be made to monitor the movement of snout.

The vulnerability assessment will also focus on extreme climate events like cloudbursts, flashfloods and avalanches and create awareness among the local people about such events about the risk of such disasters. Training programmes of various durations will be organised for MLAs, bureaucrats, officials of various departments and also the field staff. The climate change vulnerability assessment will be carried out right down to the panchayat level for undertaking adaptation measures at the micro level by involving the local community.

The adaptation measures thus evolved will be implemented in the entire Himalayan ranges in the second phase to help the people effectively combat the impact of climate change.

STUDYING ENVIRONMENT
 The bilateral project will assess the vulnerability of four selected “hotspots” in different regions of the Beas catchment
 It will evise a strategy to strengthen the resilience of the local community to climate change by imparting knowledge and capacity building

The Tribune (02-11-2013)