[Answered] “A recent study reported that 36 million Indians face flood risk due to climate change.” In light of this discuss how India should prepare itself to mitigate the threat of disasters posed by climate change?

Demand of the question
Introduction. Contextual Introduction.
Body. Mention vulnerability of India to climate change risks. Discuss how India should prepare itself to tackle the threat of climate change?
Conclusion. Way forward.

India is one of the most vulnerable countries to climate change owing to its geography and high economic dependence on climate sensitive sectors such as agriculture, fisheries, forestry and even electricity generation. In 2013, India, together with the Philippines and Cambodia, led the list of the most-affected countries, in the Germanwatch Global Climate Risk Index. Therefore, there is an urgent need for integrating Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) & Climate Change Adaption (CCA) into the ongoing and existing developmental plans, so that physical and economic damages from disasters are minimised.

Vulnerability of India to climate change:

  1. 58% Indians rely solely on agriculture. Hence, any change in rain or temperature affects not only the country’s food security and but also its economy.
  2. Also, the long coastline of over 7,500 kilometres makes it highly susceptible to risks emanating from sea level rise and oceans turning more acidic.
  3. The 10 states over which the Himalayas are spread, comprising 16 per cent of the country’s geographical area, frequently face floods, landslides and Glacial Lake Outburst Floods (GLOF).
  4. In the last three years itself, India confronted enormous devastation caused by the Uttarakhand floods, Cyclone Phailin, Kashmir floods and an unprecedented heat wave this year.
  5. It is often the poorest people who suffer most from climate change due to their higher dependence on nature.

How India should prepare itself to tackle the threat of climate change?

  1. Timely implementation: The first National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC) was released in 2008, outlining 8 core national missions running through 2017. The progress made so far on these missions remains slow and uneven. The action plan should be implemented with timely deadlines.
  2. Harmonisation of policies and programs: It is vital that INDC integrates and harmonises with the programmes undertaken by different ministries and sectors, and global processes such as Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the newly agreed Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction (SFDRR) targets. All the existing programmes and campaigns like Make in India, More crop per drop, Soil Health Card, Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Programme need to incorporate features to reduce future disaster risk.
  3. Holistic measures: Further, the risk management measures have to be holistic and must provide social protection for all citizens, especially the poor and vulnerable, to address climate change-induced loss and damage, including several irreversible impacts.
  4. Vulnerability assessment: The mechanisms such as setting up joint commissions or task forces for vulnerability assessment, planning and monitoring will go a long way in harmonising existing efforts on income generation, agriculture, water management and so on.
  5. Focus on Traditional knowledge: The tradition of indigenous knowledge and the local improvisation of appropriate technology, popularly known as jugaad across north India, will need to be recognised and coupled with modern sciences. Investing in proven integrated farming systems practiced by small farmers, will promote food security as well as help absorb climate shocks and seasonal stresses.
  6. Public investment: Agriculture extension services that build skills and ensure that useable information gets to the last farmer need to be reinforced through enhanced public investment. Successful examples of rainwater harvesting in the cities of Bengaluru, Chennai and the revival of mountain springs in Sikkim state must be replicated widely.
  7. Women participation and local action: To enable informed participation and women’s leadership in the decentralised and inclusive governance system, capacities of local communities and the authorities at the district and sub-district levels need to be the strengthened. Further, adequate finance and policy support must be made available for the implementation of local adaptation plans by village-level panchayats and urban local bodies.

The Indian sub-continent is highly prone to natural hazards. The catastrophes such as flood, hail storm, earthquake, cyclone, drought etc. have been causing loss of lives besides immense destruction to physical infrastructure and economic assets. The government needs to act swiftly to improve its existing missions, to respond to the mounting climate impacts that will continue to occur over the next several decades.

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