The first Indian mountain policy makers’ dialogue was held as a part of the Sustainable mountain development summit 3 of Indian Mountain Initiative. A good number of participants from various sections of the society were in attendance. This reportage of the event is being shared for the benefit of the people interested in the subject.
Opening the dialogue Dr. R S Tolia, gave the background to the 12th five year plan. He outlined the essential principles of 12th Five Year Plan as 1) Faster Growth 2) More Inclusive growth 3) sustainable development. He elaborated as to how faster growth would not only reduce poverty but also generate additional resources for social and infrastructural planning. Also important to note is that more than 50% of the planning resources are expected to come from the private sector funding.
Coming to the core issue of the policy maker’s dialogue, about the subject of the appropriateness of CSS schemes for the mountain states, Dr. Tolia lauded the tremendous work done by B K Chaturvedi committee for restructuring 147 Central Schemes of the last five year plan to now three main categories in the 12th Five Year plan. This shall bring the total number of restructured CSS to 59. This restricting also has brought the following interesting changes in the CSS:
· “ Flexi-Funds” in CSS
· Flexibility in Norms
· 100% Funding of all new Flagship Schemes in CSS
The committee’s recommendation would come in force from the second year of the plan however chair noted that the MoEF has been one of the first few ministries to initiate the restructured CSS.
Chair also outlined as to how the above changes in the CSS could benefit the mountain states. For example how disaster management could be made into a new flagship program specific to the 11 mountain states with strong emphasis on building systems and bringing in technologies from the other mountain countries like Switzerland and Austria as well.
12th five year plan also underlines the importance of sharing best practices in these schemes at various levels. The newly created mountain division could play a pivotal role with the help of initiatives like IMI and other international & national partners like ICIMOD.
Chair invited suggestions and issues to be flagged from the house. Many issues were raised by participants such as faster implementation of CSS, environment and forest clearances, hydroelectric projects, support for mountain specific technologies, greater role of stakeholders in M&E, addressing youth centric issues, minimizing complexities in implementation of CSS, region specific issues livestock and livelihood etc.
Mr. Manoj Chandran, IFS Uttarakhand, suggested that the issues of environment and forest should be made essential part of the CSS so that the separate mechanisms and clearances will not come in the way of faster implementation of projects.
Dr. G S Rawat raised the issue of HEPs and future in the context of recent disasters. Mr. Rajeev Semwal from Mountain Division (MoEF) pointed out the need of appropriate mountain specific technologies to be included in planning framework with a goal to reduce drudgery and to ensure faster growth.
Mr. Satyadeep Chhetri from Ecoss, Sikkim pointed out that the plan document talks about M&E at various levels but there has been no elaboration of the role of stakeholders in the process.
Mr. Pema from Sikkim raised the issue of youth alienation and water conservation for the policy makers.
Mr. Marak from Meghalaya brought out the issues regarding process, procedures and paper work required for CSS programs which lead to time & resource consuming process at the state level. Requirement of DPRs etc also should be relooked. Implementation mechanisms need to be simplified for timely and efficient use of CSS by the states.
Parliamentary Secretary from Mizoram asked policy makers to strategize instead of implementing schemes in isolation. He gave example of Agriculture sector where production related schemes should be implemented along with the market linkage scheme and also with connectivity parts of the value chain addressed before hand.
One participant from Mizoram raised pertinent issues and examples regarding the state specific detailing/flexibility of the CSS eg. Swine Husbandry in livestock which is not mainstream but would help North East states. He also urged the policy makers to look at long term rather than short term for planning.
One participant from Nagaland pointed out that the positive role of HEPs in recent disaster of Uttarakhand in mitigating the negative impact. This aspect also needs to be factored in for mountain states.
Another participant raised the issue of mining has affecting the water quality of the area thus affecting the hydro power project downstream. Such interlinked issues need to be addressed maybe with the improved mining policy.
Mr. Kirtiman from IHCAP raised the issue of climate change to be addressed by policy makers especially the state action plans could be fast tracked.
Agriculture Minister Mr. Setong Sena from Arunachal Pradesh pointed out that HEPs in Arunachal though have been highlighted for environmental concern but so far implementation has been promising with the a few projects expected to be commissioned in next 2 years. He emphasized that HEPs could be looked at as potential resource for the mountain state though with all requisite environmental safeguards. Market linkages if developed then mountain states could take advantage of cash crops. He also raised the concerns about the “Look East” policy which was started with a lot of expectations but currently in limbo. This is essential for north east states with regard to market linkages. He also emphasized that negative impact of growth oriented development which is contributing to the rat race and hence impacting the overall happiness index of development. This negative impact on the mind set of youth could be addressed by policy makers.
Chair invited Dr. Rathore, Dr. Molden and Mr. Ramola to address the specific concerns raised by the participants.
Dr. Rathore, Joint Secretary, MoEF addressed the issue of market linkages by giving examples of bay leaf project from Uttarakhand where concepts like the floating mandi were also successfully experimented with. He also advised that in ideal conditions all the concerns of Forest & Environment Act could be addressed in the individual program but in practical world we still need the interventions of a department like MoEF. The process and delays which have so far been notoriously blamed for the cost escalations etc. are now being addressed by the use of technology and e-governance. He also brought to notice that the suggestions of ICIMOD for bringing technology as end-to-end solution for disaster management. Dr. Rathore advised that mountain states could look at the 14h Finance Commission also for resources beisdes the Planning Commission. As part of the MoEF’s agenda on environmental education, Dr. Rathore emphasized the need for relook at the curriculum of all levels of state education departments so that issues regarding environment become integral part of education system.
Dr. Molden lauded the content and intent of the Kohima declaration of Youth and said that the tenets of the declaration are worth pursuing in order to meet the aspirations of youth of Himalayan region. ICIMOD will support Himalayan Universities Consortium for developing ideas and technologies said Dr. Molden. He also underlined the need for vibrant private sector for growth anticipated in the plan. He also opined that the HEPs are going to stay and we need to ensure that the process takes care of all the environmental concerns and costs.
Mr. Sushil Ramola underlined the link of goals of the 12th plan of more inclusive and sustainable development by realising the potential of our biggest economic resource, with more than 50% of the population being less than 25 years of age. This young population can be given right kind of skills to harness this huge potential f this demographic dividend. The policy and the structure to implement the skilling of the country through National Skill Mission, National Skill Development Agency and National Skill Development Corporation has been created in the last 5 years. NSDC was created in the PPP mode by the Government. The current process of “repair” has to be converted into “prepare” in the paradigm of skill development by adding this as school curriculums. He also gave examples of, Himachal and Arunachal Pradesh which have made good beginnings for both out of school youth and through NVEQF initiated vocational education programs in the schools.
Dr. Tolia also shared his recent exposures to the skill gap analysis studies being conducted at district levels of various states. These studies would lead to a fruitful implementation of skill development agenda.
Mr. Pradeep from Sikkim said that the CSS should bring in the principle of common but differentiated implementation as the specifics of state like Sikkim and Nagaland could differ on the same parameter like forest. For example allocation for ecosystem services compensation allocation should also be based on quality , value and not on the area alone. The quality and value of contributions of Oak forest should not be compared with the Sal forest for example.
Mr. Koko, IFS Uttarakhand, also shared his experience of Uttarakhand disaster. He underlined that the green building concepts currently take into account only energy issues while current disaster opened eyes to disaster prone constructions. The building code has to address mountain specificity in building codes with respect to disasters.
Mr. Satyadeep Chhetri raised the issue of Mountain Division’s accessibility and process of interaction with civil societies by this division.
Mr. Rautela informed the house about the Pubic Private Partnership experience in the mountain context. He underlined the need to develop the local private sector in order to reap double benefits of not only funding the plan but also adding to the capital generation with the private sector growth. The need to address implementation of the CSS using PPP as a tool was also emphasized by him which would lead to faster and efficient delivery of services.
Secretary Planning Nagaland, Co chair, pointed out that the through plan expenditure assets have been created but the state’s resources are not enough for the maintenance and upkeep of these assets. This aspect needs to be addressed by policy makers. He also raised the issue of cost and delays in land acquisition. He emphasised that the cost of land acquisition also should be built into the CSS. He referred to opening remarks of honourable CM about the mountain states being lungs of the nation. In order to ensure that the body of the nation functions better lungs of the nations should be taken good care of. This makes the issue of ecosystem services and disaster management as key issues to be addressed in the CSS planning.
Dr. Tolia, in conclusion, remarked that this dialogue would have helped the audience understand the mechanism of policy making. The policy makers’ dialogue has brought together ministers, legislators also to share the views on important development issues. The parallel activity of legislator’s meet which focuses on issues related to climate change etc. also will help in policy dialogue. He also emphasized the need to incorporate the low carbon technologies and low carbon routes to development for sustainable growth. The need for sharing best practices from the new restructured 50 odd CSS schemes in the state, between and among the states would be the key to leverage, replicate and upscale the impact. He also informed the participants that many issues raised in Kohima Declaration by the youth have also been addressed in today’s deliberations. Finally he concluded with the thought provoking message of “Every Good Policy is based on good practices and every good practice has a very sound policy behind it”