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ODISHA CLIMATE CHANGE ACTION PLAN: WHAT NEED TO BE DONE! AND WHAT CIVIL SOCIETY SAYS:

DEVELOPMENT DEFICIT

ODISHA CLIMATE CHANGE ACTION PLAN: WHAT NEED TO BE DONE! AND WHAT CIVIL SOCIETY SAYS:

BY SUDARSHAN CHHOTORAY

Climate Change is a reality today. Extreme events will be normal in the future. More conversations needed with communities for real understanding and this real understanding and Integration will lead to the real resilience. As on today not much information is available on the methodology of local level adaptation. All local level strategies are linked to State, National and Regional strategies for call abortive efforts in addressing disaster risk.

The formulation and finalisation of Odisha Climate Change Action Plan (OCCAP) has been a step in right direction. But due to lack of involvement of stakeholders the plan has been directionless and inconclusive.

It is evident that climate change impacts the socially and economically vulnerable disproportionately, especially in those areas prone to natural hazards and disasters. Rural poor, Tribals and women in or most developing countries are among the most vulnerable as they are highly dependent on the natural environment for their livelihood and other needs. Their deprivation, poverty and inequality undermine the social capital to deal effectively with climate change. In this context, gender equality and women's empowerment is very important for women to deal with or adapt to the effects of climate change.

Impact on Women

Need to undertake more research – on issues relating to effective adaptation and mitigation in view of the global food and energy crisis; indigenous knowledge of women that could contribute to the mitigation strategies; the alternative livelihood opportunities and other capacities like education, freedom of mobility etc. to cope with natural disasters; what are their strategic needs; need for more disaggregated information by gender on climate change impacts and natural disasters; gender impact assessments and gender budgeting of climate change funds especially those made by big donors and banks.

Participation of women and in climate change planning and decision making processes – in the areas of forest, agriculture, water policies and programmes, renewable energy projects such as bio fuel production and hydro-electric dams; biodiversity protection measures, climate change adaptation deliberations at both national and international levels.

Training on projected climatic shifts and impact for specific geographical regions, to build knowledge among civil society, women NGOs and all stakeholders to strengthen their capacity to advocate for specific gender- responsive policies; (b) Consultations to share expertise between indigenous women leaders, academics, scientists, and traditional knowledge holders; (c) Workshops to facilitate South-South sharing of best practices from similarly at-risk communities; and (d) Gender experts in key Ministries and Governmental agencies to assist policy-makers and local institutions involved in disaster risk reduction (DRR) planning. In sum, forums for dialogue (at local, national and international level) should be supported where they exist—as in the current United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) negotiations, which allows access to civil society actors—and created where they do not. These efforts will help ensure that insights about differentiated impact of climate change as well as differentiated contributions to potential solutions can be shared and consolidated, and women's knowledge and experience of effective local mitigation and adaptation measures can contribute to more sustainable and responsive climate change policies.

Capacity Building for Alternative Livelihoods – is an essential part of climate change adaptation and mitigation. The possible support could be (1) upgrading of indigenous/traditional knowledge and skills and revitalising it in areas where it has been eroded/diluted, (2) introduction of new knowledge and technologies to support women's access to new markets and (3) women's un-mediated access to resources, including land, housing and independent credit (has great potential to empower women).

Implement policies that are responsive to the gender differentiated impact of climate change – gender mainstreaming is recommended in three areas – disaster risk reduction (DRR) planning and implementation at local, national and regional levels; National Adaptation Programmes of Actions and innumerous Climate Change funds to benefit women and men equally. Gender mainstreaming should be promoted at the core of institutions engaged in climate change interventions. There is a need for gender expertise within institutions as well as to engage policy making.
Energy

Huge investment (35% of planned budget) seems unwarranted and completely motivated by global corporate. Generating surplus and augmenting the national grid at the cost of local pollution and climate change hazards is difficult to comprehend. The sectoral plan looks more as a climate change abating plan. Moratorium on thermal power plant expansion and promotion of alternate and renewable energy is the need of the hour

There is a need to develop an appropriate legal (land administration) framework to tackle eventual coastal displacement and resettlement. Clear prescription on energy provision and strategy for agriculture esp. for protective irrigation requires to be spelled out; Energy strategy for small and microenterprise required to be clearly prescribed
Health
Considering the expected impact on human health, resource allocation seems to be very low. Hospital and Municipal Waste management waste management should be given more attention. Priority should be given to promotion of local wisdom/knowledge on health. Simultaneously, home herbal gardens and school/institutional herbal gardens should be promoted. High priority on industrial/occupational health security. Clear prescription on energy provision and strategy for agriculture esp. for protective irrigation requires to be spelled out; Energy strategy for small and microenterprise required to be clearly prescribed
Industry Sector

Industries, mostly the types coming to Odisha, are high water intensive, polluting and energy consuming industries. The OCCAP mentions that ‘being a mineral rich state, industrial development is focused on metallurgical and other metal-based industries’. The Civil Society does not agree with this thinking. There are no two opinions that minerals are resources, but we, the current generation, do not have the sole ownership over those resources. And considering that extraction and use of such resources require permanent consumption of such resources and destruction of environment and ecology, use of such resources must be planned and executed with proper concern and far-sight. The civil society strongly believes that massive industrialization of mine based and coal fuelled industries is highly unwarranted and does not serve any benefit to people of Odisha in general. On the contrary, it causes significantly to global and warming, degrades living standards of the local people and creates severe health hazards.

The Civil Society casts doubts over the statement ‘in its current stage of industrial development, Odisha will work towards achieving both carbon-conscious and climate resilient industrial development’. The doubt arises because it further says, ‘without compromising on the current pace of industrialization’. Both these statements cannot go together. We strongly object to the later statement.

Over emphasis has been given to Odisha’s mineral resources while substantially neglecting its other industrial potentials. It is a pity that government’s definition of ‘industry’ only includes the polluting, natural resource crushing big industries. Thus it considers a steel manufacturing industry over a KEWADA flower based industry. It considers a mineral exporting port as an industry but not fishermen’s livelihoods. The Civil Society firmly denounces such stance by the government.

The government has taken into account only those kinds of industries for its growth and that thinking has been reflected in the draft OCCAP. This makes the foundation wrong and vulnerable in the context of global warming, environmental degradation, livelihoods lost and sustainability aspects. Odisha must go for far more food processing, agricultural, fishery, handloom, and tourism based industries than the mineral based industries. This will help in eliminating the evil.

In general, the Civil Society believes that the suggestions made in the draft CCAP are nominal and weak intended in nature and at best they treat the system, not eliminate the disease itself. The Gandhian principle of industrialization is still the fittest model and thus has to be applied to practice. Minor changes to present industrialization model that the government has adopted will yield no result vis-à-vis climate change in particular and overall development in general.

Impact of industries on local livelihoods and standard of living has to an integral part of the studies. Teeth to monitoring and regulatory authorities. Non-mineral based industries are given more priority. Cap and banning of industries that emit and release effluents beyond limits that are to be set through detailed and extensive studies. Moratorium – no more new industries or capacity increase - in high industry intensive clusters. No more major ports in the coastal areas. Policing and monitoring has to be strictly enforced. Institutions like Pollution Control Board have to be made free from political interferences. PRI institutions have to be given overriding authority with clear laws and powers. No major industries are allowed anywhere near major water sources. Clear deadlines and measurable indicators have to set for the industries to meet climate change mitigating requirements. All spending made under Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and proposed ‘compensatory’ measures are to be made public immediately. External agencies like the World Bank, DFID, and ADB must not get any scope play a decisive role in policy formulation. All studies, trainings and other activities planned in the draft action plan have to participatory. The KVICs have to be given a larger role and responsibility. They have to be key players in the whole process. Large retail business like ‘Reliance Fresh’ should be discouraged because they increase carbon foot prints substantially. Industries that harvest all of their water requirements and release no effluents can be allowed but to a limited extent.
Mining Sector

The Civil Society strongly opposes to the very first statement made in the OCCAP on mining. It says “mining is a mainstay activity in Odisha….” Mining was never a mainstay in Odisha and, if we are sincere to mitigate climate change, it should never be one in the future.

The thought reflected in that first sentence has unfortunately percolated to the whole of document related to mining. It has failed to take into consideration most of the critical aspects that requires attention vis-à-vis climate change. The mining part of the draft OCCAP is pathetically ordinary in visioning the future; is far too general in nature; and lacks any clear time bound and actionable strategy. It has failed to follow the polluters pay principle and does precious little to help the common people of mining area and of other areas who are adversely affected due to mining.

As Odisha has one of the largest mineral deposits, the state should lead in implementing a rigorous climate sensitive mining policy. Unfortunately that has not come up. The Civil Society thus calls the government to have a fresh look at the whole exercise and re-do CCAP again. Preparation of an atlas of mineral deposits and the problems associated with mining of such resources on environment, local livelihoods, water resources, forest etc. This activity must apply modern technologies like the GIS, GPS etc. The Environmental Impact Assessments (EIA) is prepared by the miners and thus their estimation cannot be trusted without verification. Proactive declaration of the mineral deposits areas where mining will have environmental costs as ‘no mining zones’. Have a clear mining policy; come out with strict laws; enforce monitoring and enforcing agencies with teeth and autonomy but accountability; open special courts. Come out with a detailed study of cost and benefits of the mining done in the past. This has to be done taking into account not just financial aspects, but social and environmental aspects as well. By doing this Odisha government will set a role model and earn the trust of common people.
WATER SECTOR
While a box on how Odisha is water rich is prominently placed at the beginning of discussion of water sector in Odisha’s draft Climate Chang Action Plan, it has conveniently ignored how Odisha is in the thick of things with regards to water conflicts. This underlines the hollowness of the claimed water surplus status. Climate change is about to make water status further worse. Moreover, climate change is feared to make water as the chief instrument for causing destructions and disasters.

When judged in that context, the draft OCCAP seems to have taken a very narrow vision and has failed to factor in the possible threat levels. It has failed to factor in the disaster angle into the proposed modelling. For example, it has ignored dam safety issues. All dams and reservoirs – including Hirakud and Rengali - built in Odisha and upstream states are not capable to meet revised design flood flow projection. The action plan is absolutely clueless about such situation. The OCCAP must ask government to start activities for preparation of such extreme events as such disasters will have catastrophic impacts. Besides, the draft CCAP has ignored critical water sector sub-themes like drinking, sanitation, water stress management, pollution of water and ground water management etc. Water quality problems are evolving as a very big threat. It has poor sanitation coverage. Odisha records the highest malaria and water-borne casualty and cases in the country. It has not considered possible remedies of saline water ingress in coastal areas. The draft OCCAP is expected to be a vision document along with clear action points. But sadly, this one does not give any indication of that. Water resources are yet to be taken in a holistic and integrated manner by the department of water resources. The draft OCCAP has largely been a wish list of ‘irrigation’ department. And hence, it forgets about drinking water and sanitation which is implemented by Rural Development department.

The civil societies urge the government to admit that the CCAP is still a half-baked project and this draft cannot be accepted. We further urge to make necessary corrections and additions by including true learning and experiences of communities. The most overwhelming aspect is that the government has to be prepared to provide and maintain water security for its people, which the present action plan has failed to do.

It has to take into account drinking and sanitation issues at all. It has to take into account ground water related issues. It has to take into account the issue of ground water use by industries very seriously. It has to take into consideration issues of saline water ingress. It has to factor in potential of very high intensity water related disasters. Rivers must be allowed to have natural flow. The idea of river water draining into the sea as a ‘waste’ has to be aborted. Minimum interference in river flow has to be assured. Pollution of water must be treated as a serious offence and deterrent measures have to be kept for offenders. The water plan and state water policy have to be revisited and clear action points be charted therein.

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