Mountain Voice: During this series we interacted with a youth journalist working for an Indian news daily for over 10 years in Indian mountains. He writes on issues related to natural resources, people’s rights, environment and developmental issues in the region on regular basis. We interviewed Mr. Deepak Benjwal on issues related to climate change including the environment and developments happening in the western part of Himalayan region of India.
While he feels that Climate change in the region is not happening at the rate and situation has been exaggerated so. In this way he finds that with the access to various amenities people in urban centres in the Indian mountains have now become habitual of a number of luxuries and facilities like water heaters, coolers, air conditioners, among others, and they are using them, which is not exactly due to climatic change or rise in temperature. However, he observes that the agriculture productivity in the region has reduced a lot due to harsh weather conditions.
On the issues of natural resources he mentioned that those river systems, land and forests belonged to the local people earlier, now have no rights on them due to government policies and actions. He finds that the national and state governments are working in such a way that people are not at all involved in decision making process of natural resource acquisition. He quotes example that, whenever and wherever the government wants to acquire or give land, forest or water body to a corporation or business it just gives one sided order to them to do so, while people are not asked during any such process. In many of the hydro-power and biodiversity conservation project the locals are totally alienated and their rights to natural resources have not been considered.
As way forward he suggests that the primary issue in the mountains is related to migration of youth for employment and livelihood to other cities and that could stopped by developing employment and livelihood opportunities with in the region. Also the mountain people should be given priority in various jobs and opportunities by the government. He mentions that the forest and land related rights of local people’s should be protected, as they need fuel, fodder and fiber on daily basis. He thinks that the governments have big plans in place towards energy security and conservation projects, but, in his opinion the way it works, the local people are excluded.
Watch the interview
Featured Photo: Anup Shah, Nainital India. Curtsey : IMI
Started in year 2010, ‘Climate Himalaya’ initiative has been working on Mountains and Climate linked issues in the Himalayan region of South Asia. In the last five years this knowledge sharing portal has become one of the important references for the governments, research institutions, civil society groups and international agencies, those have work and interest in the Himalayas. The Climate Himalaya team innovates on knowledge sharing, capacity building and climatic adaptation aspects in its focus countries like Bhutan, India, Nepal and Pakistan. Climate Himalaya’s thematic areas of work are mountain ecosystem, water, forest and livelihood. Read>>