GUWAHATI, June 4 � The draft strategy and action plan on climate change prepared for the State by the Assam Science Technology and Environment Council (ASTEC), has recommended that the water security issues should be given priority over all other issues incase of hydro-power or storage reservoir projects.
�The State Government must negotiate the riparian and downstream rights of its people with neighbouring states upstream, with whom the State shares river courses and basins�� said the relevant recommendation of the strategy and action plan.
The above draft strategy etc has been prepared through consultative workshops held in Assam University, Gauhati University and Tezpur University and it has been supported by the State�s Department of Science and Technology.
It has observed that the creation of regulatory strategies for usage of groundwater in both urban and rural areas of the State has become a necessity. Further, it says, strategic policy interventions are required in the case of common property resources (CPR), such as wetland and other water sources.
Fundamental right of every citizen to water shall remain non-negotiable and privatization, if deemed unavoidable, should be limited only to treatment, distribution and associated activities while taking care that those, like the BPL families, who cannot afford to pay for privatized services should be exempted as far as possible. Or, there should be the provision for subsidies for them, says another recommendation of the draft strategy.
It also called for declaring the Merbeel (Dibrugarh), Maguri Motakong (Tinsukia), Morikolong, Samaguri (Nagaon), Saron, Morakolong, Bormonoha (Morigaon), Silsako (Kamrup), Kapla Beel (Barpeta), Tamranga, Kanara, Suksuka, Kayakujia (Bongaigaon), Dhir, Diplai, Saraswar (Dhubri), Hasila, Urpad (Goalpara), Bathabeel (Darrang) Satla (Cachar) and Sonbeel (Karimganj) as the State Wetland of Importance.
It is important to identity water heritage sites and develop appropriate plans for their preservation. Such sites may incorporate the historically important water bodies, like the tanks of Upper Assam, lakes, streams, part of river etc, it says.
It further says, the State should go for a single State Wetland Authority to take care of conservation of the ecosystem, aquatic flora, fauna and dependent wildlife, sustainable utilization of the wetlands etc.
Since irregular climate variability would harm agriculture, the State�s agricultural policy should be reviewed and reframed in the context of climate change vulnerability, incorporating the strategic guideline for each of the agro-climate zones.
There is also the need to establish the linkage of agricultural policy with those on water and land use, so that they become matching to one another, specially with respect to irrigation and other means of water harvesting for agricultural uses. Crop, farmland and livestock insurance should be introduced and promoted to minimize the farmer�s risks, says the draft strategy.
It is necessary �to adopt a state land use policy with specific consideration of rural area, urban area, areas under water and areas under wilderness. It may incorporate flood plain zoning, mapping of major and minor watershed, Panchayat-level land-use mapping along with identification of habitat zones for the entire State,� says the draft strategy.
To mitigate the impacts of the disasters, the draft has recommended that the State should have a natural disaster management policy with emphasis on establishment of separate disaster management wings in every districts with the required manpower, infrastructure etc.
Emphasis should also be there for early establishment of a State Disaster Response Force, in line with the National Disaster Response Force, it says, adding, separate Disaster Medical Task Forces for all the blocks, with trained doctors and staff to handle disaster like situations, should also be set up.
It has also called for review of the existing forest policy of the State to incorporate strategic issues of climate change vulnerability and incorporation of guideline for the State in the areas of carbon trade. Priority should be attached to �protection of public interest instead of creating path way corporate houses,� it says.
�Mixed use strategy� in energy sector, like small hydro power strategy, promoting energy efficiency in the residential, commercial and official complexes, mandatory use of solar water heaters in public and private buildings etc, should also be included in the policy-based initiatives in the energy sector, the document says.