Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Monsoons in India

It involves clearing a patch of forest land, but retaining useful trees and plant varieties, cultivating it for two to three years and then abandoning it for 10-20 years to allow the natural forest to grow back and the soil to regain its fertility. The cycle of cultivation, leaving it fallow and coming back to it for cultivation, is called the Jhum cycle. Traditionally, a village community owns/controls the forest land and decides on such rotational cultivation pattern. Thus the community cultivates land for its livelihood while practising conservation and taking care of the ecological balance. However, with the population pressure, communities wanting to grow more food have cleared greater chunks of forest lands and returned to the fallow plots much sooner than 10-20 years. The length of the fallow phase between two successive cropping phases has come down to even two to three years in some places. This has resulted in soil degradation, fall in yield, lower returns, and reduction in green cover. It is this change in traditional practice, arising out of changing conditions, that has given jhum agriculture a bad name. Separately, forests are being exploited for timber and hills are being flattened for soil and stones. Often, this denuding of the forest too is blamed upon jhum cultivation. The state government has come out with various schemes to provide the jhumais with alternate means of livelihood and wean them away from jhuming. However the needs of the jhum cultivators have not been assessed rightly and these schemes have met with limited success or have completely failed. It is important to state here that shifting cultivation should not be confused with slash-and-burn. Slash-and-burn is a mere land clearing method used by many people around the globe to open up forest land and use it for permanent agriculture. On the contrary, shifting cultivation is an integrated farming system involving forestry, agriculture and strong social organisation on the part of the communities. Ecologically, the practice of jhum has a deleterious effect on the local environment, while others have often thwarted those arguments and proved that jhum in fact is a sustainable form of agricultural production best suited for the specific ecology of the hill regions. The arguments against jhum have included projecting it as an unsustainable practice that depletes the soil of nutrients, reducing the forest cover, causing landslides, etc. Arguments against jhum have come from state forestry departments, development ministries like DONER (Development Of North East Region) or trade promoting entities like the World Bank who lean towards utilisation of the region's forest resources for the benefit of national and private capital. In addition, private entities wishing to utilise the land for specific profit-making ventures, like extraction industries, utilise these arguments to push the state to wean away local villagers from practicing jhum in order to lease the land. This has happened in the hill regions of Meghalaya and Assam where corrupt or otherwise, village councils leased out land to private and national corporations for extraction industries including coal, limestone, and uranium in the future. In addition, the paper industry has pushed for the growth of bamboo by villagers as a cash crop replacing an egalitarian cultivation system with one that has created a small mercantilist class controlling all bamboo production. However, these arguments have been rebutted by many scientists, including studies by organisations like the Indian Institute of Science, Tata Energy Research Institute and UNESCO who have proved in different ways that jhum is indeed a sustainable form of agriculture best suited to the rainy hill regions of Northeast India, over other forms of agriculture such as valley or terrace cultivation. Studies have further proved that, contrary to arguments of soil infertility, the practice of jhum ensures that fallowness in the soil is not compromised on, and often rapid regeneration of the vegetation takes place once a tract of land is abandoned after cultivation. CLIMATE CHANGE Climate Change & its Impact on India India, the seventh largest country in the world and the second largest in Asia, has a total geographical area of 329 Mha, of which only 305 Mha is the reporting area (the area as per the land records of villages and towns). The mainland stretches from 8 4†² N to 37 6†² N and 68 7†² E to 97 25†² E. It has a land frontier of 15,200 km and a coastline of 7,516 km. India, the seventh largest country in the world and the second largest in Asia, has a total geographical area of 329 Mha, of which only 305 Mha is the reporting area (the area as per the land records of villages and towns). The mainland stretches from 8o4†² N to 37o6†² N and 68o7†² E to 97o 25†² E. It has a land frontier of 15,200 km and a coastline of 7,516 km. In developing countries like India, climate change could represent an additional stress on cological and socioeconomic systems that are already facing tremendous pressures due to rapid urbanization, industrialization and economic development. With its huge and growing population, a 7500-km long densely populated and low-lying coastline, and an economy that is closely tied to its natural resource base, India is considerably vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. The various studies conducted in the country have shown that the surface air temperatures in India are going up at the rate of 0. 4oC per hundred years, particularly during the post-monsoon and winter season. Using models, they predict that mean winter temperatures will increase by as much as 3. 2oC in the 2050s and 4. 5oC by 2080s, due to Greenhouse gases. Summer temperatures will increase by 2. 2oC in the 2050s and 3. 2oC in the 2080s. Extreme temperatures and heat spells have already become common over Northern India, often causing loss of human life. In 1998 alone, 650 deaths occurred in Orissa due to heat waves. Climate change has had an effect on the monsoons too. India is heavily dependent on the monsoon to meet its agricultural and water needs, and also for protecting and propagating its rich biodiversity. Subtle changes have already been noted in the monsoon rain patterns by scientists at IIT, Delhi. They also warn that India will experience a decline in summer rainfall by the 2050s, summer rainfall accounts for almost 70% of the total annual rainfall over India and is crucial to Indian agriculture. Relatively small climatic changes can cause large water resource problems, particularly in arid and semi-arid regions such as northwest India. This will have an impact on agriculture, drinking water and on generation of hydro-electric power. Apart from monsoon rains, India uses perennial rivers, which originate and depend on glacial melt-water in the Hindukush and Himalayan ranges. Since the melting season coincides with the summer monsoon season, any intensification of the monsoon is likely to contribute to flood disasters in the Himalayan catchment. Rising temperatures will also contribute to the raising of snowline, reducing the capacity of this natural reservoir, and increasing the risk of flash floods during the wet season. Increased temperatures will impact agricultural production. Higher temperatures reduce the total duration of a crop cycle by inducing early flowering, thus shortening the `grain fill’ period. The shorter the crop cycle, the lower the yield per unit area. A trend of sea level rise of 1 cm per decade has been recorded along the Indian coast. Sea level rise due to thermal expansion of sea water in the Indian Ocean is expected to be about 25-040 cm by 2050. This could inundate low lying areas, down coastal marshes and wetlands, erode beaches, exacerbate flooding and increase the salinity of rivers, bays and aquifers. Deltas will be threatened by flooding, erosion and salt intrusion. Loss of coastal mangroves will have an impact on fisheries. The major delta area of the Ganga, Brahmaputra and Indus rivers, which have large populations reliant on riverine resources will be affected by changes in water regimes, salt water intrusions and land loss. Increase in temperatures will result in shifts of lower altitude tropical and subtropical forests to higher altitude temperate forest regions, resulting in the extinction of some temperate vegetation types. Decrease in rainfall and the resultant soil moisture stress could result in drier teak dominated forests replacing sal trees in central India. Increased dry spells could also place dry and moist deciduous forests at increased risk from forest fires. Medical Science suggests that the rise in temperature and change in humidity will adversely affect human health in India. Heat stress could result in heat cramps, heat exhaustion, heal stroke, and damage physiological functions, metabolic processes and immune systems. Increased temperatures can increase the range of vector borne diseases such as malaria, particularly in regions where minimum temperatures currently limited pathogen and vector development. as one of the first in Asia to recognize the effectiveness of the Export Processing Zone (EPZ) model in promoting exports, with Asia's first EPZ set up in Kandla in 1965. With a view to overcome the shortcomings experienced on account of the multiplicity of controls and clearances; absence of world-class infrastructure, and an unstable fiscal regime and with a view to attract larger foreign investments in India, the Special Econ omic Zones (SEZs) Policy was announced in April 2000. This policy intended to make SEZs an engine for economic growth supported by quality infrastructure complemented by an attractive fiscal package, both at the Centre and the State level, with the minimum possible regulations. SEZs in India functioned from 1. 11. 2000 to 09. 02. 2006 under the provisions of the Foreign Trade Policy and fiscal incentives were made effective through the provisions of relevant statutes. To instill confidence in investors and signal the Government's commitment to a stable SEZ policy regime and with a view to mpart stability to the SEZ regime thereby generating greater economic activity and employment through the establishment of SEZs, a comprehensive draft SEZ Bill prepared after extensive discussions with the stakeholders. A number of meetings were held in various parts of the country both by the Minister for Commerce and Industry as well as senior officials for this purpose. The Special Economic Zones Act, 2005, was passed by Parliament in May, 2005 whic h received Presidential assent on the 23rd of June, 2005. The draft SEZ Rules were widely discussed and put on the website of the Department of Commerce offering suggestions/comments. Around 800 suggestions were received on the draft rules. After extensive consultations, the SEZ Act, 2005, supported by SEZ Rules, came into effect on 10th February, 2006, providing for drastic simplification of procedures and for single window clearance on matters relating to central as well as state governments. The main objectives of the SEZ Act are: (a)generation of additional economic activity (b)promotion of exports of goods and services; c)promotion of investment from domestic and foreign sources; (d)creation of employment opportunities; (e)development of infrastructure facilities; It is expected that this will trigger a large flow of foreign and domestic investment in SEZs, in infrastructure and productive capacity, leading to generation of additional economic activity and creation of employment opportunities. The SEZ Act 2005 envisages key role for th e State Governments in Export Promotion and creation of related infrastructure. A Single Window SEZ approval mechanism has been provided through a 19 member inter-ministerial SEZ Board of Approval (BoA). The applications duly recommended by the respective State Governments/UT Administration are considered by this BoA periodically. All decisions of the Board of approvals are with consensus. The SEZ Rules provide for different minimum land requirement for different class of SEZs. Every SEZ is divided into a processing area where alone the SEZ units would come up and the non-processing area where the supporting infrastructure is to be created. was one of the first in Asia to recognize the effectiveness of the Export Processing Zone (EPZ) model in promoting exports, with Asia's first EPZ set p in Kandla in 1965. With a view to overcome the shortcomings experienced on account of the multiplicity of controls and clearances; absence of world-class infrastructure, and an unstable fiscal regime and with a view to attract larger foreign investments in India, the Special Economic Zones (SEZs) Policy was announced in April 2000. This policy intended to make SEZs an engine for economic growth sup ported by quality infrastructure complemented by an attractive fiscal package, both at the Centre and the State level, with the minimum possible regulations. SEZs in India functioned from 1. 11. 2000 to 09. 02. 006 under the provisions of the Foreign Trade Policy and fiscal incentives were made effective through the provisions of relevant statutes. To instill confidence in investors and signal the Government's commitment to a stable SEZ policy regime and with a view to impart stability to the SEZ regime thereby generating greater economic activity and employment through the establishment of SEZs, a comprehensive draft SEZ Bill prepared after extensive discussions with the stakeholders. A number of meetings were held in various parts of the country both by the Minister for Commerce and Industry as well as senior officials for this purpose. The Special Economic Zones Act, 2005, was passed by Parliament in May, 2005 which received Presidential assent on the 23rd of June, 2005. The draft SEZ Rules were widely discussed and put on the website of the Department of Commerce offering suggestions/comments. Around 800 suggestions were received on the draft rules. After extensive consultations, the SEZ Act, 2005, supported by SEZ Rules, came into effect on 10th February, 2006, providing for drastic simplification of procedures and for single window clearance on matters relating to central as well as state governments.

No comments:

Post a Comment