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Centre finally greenlights Karnataka Climate Action Plan after 3-year wait; but implementation is key – EQ

Centre finally greenlights Karnataka Climate Action Plan after 3-year wait; but implementation is key – EQ


In Short : The Centre has finally approved the Karnataka Climate Action Plan after a 3-year wait, but successful implementation remains crucial. This plan aims to address climate challenges and promote sustainable development in the state, emphasizing the importance of effective execution to achieve its goals.

In Detail : Karnataka has been caught between two extreme conditions for the last decade of floods in the southern districts and droughts in the north and eastern districts

As Karnataka faces escalating climate challenges, including severe droughts and erratic monsoon patterns, the state government is poised to roll out a comprehensive climate action plan. The Karnataka State Action Plan for Climate Change (KSAPCC), initially prepared in 2021, was recently approved by the central government. Now, it must be properly impremented to ensure the climate crisis that the state is going through is contained.

The Environment Management and Policy Research Institute (EMPRI), which drafted the plan, indicated that the state requires Rs 52,827 crore between 2025 and 2030 to implement measures in agriculture, horticulture, forestry, rural development and 10 other sectors. From afforestation to the use of renewable energy, the plan suggested a slew of measures for every department.

“The Karnataka State Action Plan on Climate Change – Version 2, submitted to the Union Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MOEF&CC) in April 2021, outlines critical strategies and measures to combat climate change across various sectors. After a three-year wait, the plan’s approval marks a significant step towards mitigating the adverse effects of climate change in the state,” said the thinktanks at the National Environmental Care Foundation, Mangaluru.

The top bureaucrats in the Union Ministry of Renewable Energy stated that the plan advocates a multi-sectoral approach. They emphasised the urgency of the implementation of the plan; the renewable energy department is keenly looking to begin the implementation immediately after the Model Code of Conduct (MCC) is lifted after election results on June 4, 2024.

Under central government directions, all major states have formed their own scientific working groups to draft the state action plan for climate change and Karnataka was one of the first states that got the green signal from the MOEF&CC.

The state department of renewable energy, despite the three-year delay, has asked every last official in the hierarchy to participate in the inter-departmental drills and formulation of departmental level action plans replete with programme-specific plans with clear performance indicators and targets. Soon, the report with complete works will be tabled in front of the state cabinet, the officials told Down To Earth (DTE).

Karnataka has been caught between two extreme conditions for the last decade of floods in the southern districts and droughts in the north and eastern districts.

Implementing the climate change plan is not easy in Karnataka; there must be all-round development towards achieving the goals in this realm. Officials of EMPRI told DTE that the all-round approach must include protection and promotion of waterbodies, which must aim at recharging the subterranean water veins, afforestation on a war footing, finding ways and methods to grow water-intensive crops with less water, greening the banks of the rivers in the state, improving forest cover in cities under a modified social forestry programme and conserving and rejuvenating the open wells, bogs, creeks, tanks and lakes.

The experts who participated in the drafting of the action plan from the financial world were of the opinion that corporations must be enthused to use a major chunk of their Corporate Social Responsibility funds for the cause of climate change.

Some of the bureaucrats who were in the loop from the municipal administration side felt that the flooding in the city areas was basically due to faulty civic planning and top down models imported from other places.

The three-year tussle

After the 2023 assembly elections in Karnataka, the central and state governments locked horns, particularly on the sharing of funding from the central list to the state of Karnataka for various issues. These included the drought relief and KSAPCC, which are in some way interconnected.

The Karnataka government had argued that by not approving the plan submitted in 2021, the central government had done injustice to the state in combating climate change. The first sign of climate change is always felt on water availability and crop failure, which is why the government of Karnataka had demanded a drought relief of Rs 18,000 crore for the financial year 2023-24.

The southern state’s rural development and Panchayati Raj minister, Priyank Kharge, had asked the election commission to relax the MCC in Karnataka in view of the unprecedented drought conditions which he attributed to climate change. “We must be able to hold meetings with the stakeholders and elicit information and opinions, quickly take steps to mitigate the drought situation directly and also indirectly the vagaries of climate change. We have already declared 236 out of 267 talukas in the state as ‘drought-affected’. Such large-scale drought conditions are serious effects of climate change,” he said.

NS Boseraju, state minister for minor irrigation and science and technology, told DTE: “We are not in favour of playing the blame game, but the central government should have approved the state action plan much earlier. This is a global issue and we must give due urgency to implementing the action plan. Our scientists and analysts from elite research and scientific institutes worked day and night to create it as early as 2021. The central government should have influenced the Election Commission to relax MCC on deliberations and funding for such a large issue.”

Anand Gupta Editor - EQ Int'l Media Network