Guwahati: The representatives and former representatives of various elected bodies of the Himalayan states, Union Territories, and districts of India on Saturday acknowledged that there is an urgent need for bringing about stringent policies and legislation against single-use plastics due to the fragile Himalayan ecosystem and resolve to commit to the vision of a Zero Waste Himalaya.

This was one of the clauses of the Declaration at the 10th Sustainable Mountain Development Summit held in Darjeeling-Kalimpong from November 18 concluded on Saturday.

The meet included a state of affairs presentation on UNEP’s Counter MEASURE II project which aims at informing and influencing national policies, institutions and alliances through the generation and dissemination of scientific knowledge on plastic pollution of rivers in India.

The meet discussed and deliberated on several important issues of the Indian Himalayan Region, especially on the pathways for plastic waste management in the region, collectively do hereby.

The meet decided to support the Central government’s call to eliminate single-use plastics and take measures for eradicating SUPs in the Indian Himalayan Region by urging the state governments, Union Territory administrations, district councils, traditional institutions and other civic bodies for sustained cooperation and collaboration in a serious fight against plastic pollution.

It also decided to advocate for Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) to be made feasible to the mountain states by addressing the specificities of the mountain economy and bringing in commitment from the industry.

The meet also resolved to facilitate and support the contextualisation of all waste management rules to be sensitive and acknowledge the regional specific issues and challenges of mountain/hill states. players.

It further decided to engage relevant stakeholders to take proactive steps to explore solutions for sustainable tourism in the Indian Himalayan Region which is possible only with the arrest of the existing waste crisis and reducing plastic pollution in the region.

Addressing the meet on Saturday, Arunachal Pradesh deputy chief minister Chowna Mein emphasized the adverse impact of plastic pollution on the overall health of the people and also highlighted the recent Climate Change Declaration of Arunachal Pradesh on the principles of ‘Panchamrit’.

Congratulating the Integrated Mountain Initiative for organizing the Mountain Legislators Meet, Mein said that it is a good time to reflect on the work that has gone in for the past decade and to identify the focus areas for the time to come.

“Today I am proud to inform the august guests of this Summit that my state Arunachal Pradesh has become the first state to adopt a climate change declaration by taking clue from the guidance is given by our Prime Minister on the principles of ‘Panchamrit’,” said Mein.

He informed that on November 13 2021, the Council of Ministers of Arunachal signed the ‘Pakke Tiger Declaration 2047 on Climate Change Resilient & Responsive Arunachal Pradesh’.

He added that in the Pakke Declaration, the state government had unanimously agreed to prioritize the five broad themes – Panch Dharas – envisaging a multi-sector ‘whole of government and whole of society’ approach towards low emissions and climate-resilient development. These five areas are i) Environment, Forest & Climate Change, ii) Health & Well-being of All, iii) Sustainable & Adaptive Living, iv) Livelihoods & Opportunities and iv) Evidence Generation & Collaborative Action.

Mein further said that climate change is a real threat to the entire earth. All of our homelands are especially vulnerable due to the fragile ecosystem of the Himalayan Mountains. We must then take this issue in all its seriousness and deliver outcomes. I strongly believe that we the mountain states should strive to become world leaders in adopting climate sustainable initiatives.

Mein called to adopt the approach of ‘Start Small and Do Well’ and emphasized inclusion, equity and collaborative actions as the basis to address the challenges at the ground level and to deliver better resource governance.

Mein said concerning the Pakke Declaration, I would like to suggest that IMI can also take up measures from this declaration and suggest to the other Himalayan States to adopt and implement such resolutions. Our conditions and concerns are similar for the protection of the environment and the sustenance of the ecosystem.

He urged upon all the legislators to join hands in taking up the cause, individually at their constituencies and collectively as mountain legislators. He said that we are about 25 legislators – imagine if we highlight the menace of plastic pollution in our respective constituencies – we can impact 20 lakh people. Let us make this a core issue. Focus on our young generation, encourage them and facilitate for a better tomorrow, he added.

In his address, Meghalaya environment and forest minister James Sangma brought to attention various crucial issues on the topic including the need for bringing in nature and economics together for a sustainable, resilient future for the region.

Chowna Mein attended as chief guest while James Sangma attended as the guest of honour. The discussion was chaired by Session Chair Vincent Pala, MP Lok Sabha (Shillong), and moderated by PD Rai, president IMI, and former MP Lok Sabha Sikkim.
The meet was organized by Integrated Mountain Initiative (IMI, localhost Darjeeling Himalaya Initiative and United Nations Environment Program (UNEP).

The legislators discussed the issue of the waste crisis in the hill stations of India, especially on the growing plastic pollution and its impact on mountain landscapes. The members also deliberated on potential solutions and policy mechanisms that can effectively tackle the plastic waste in the mountains.

The Mountain Legislators’ Meet 2021 was attended by Vincent Pala (MP), HM Shangpliang (MLA), ST Venchungpa (MLA), Miani Shira (MLA), Pravat Chowdhury (MLA), Tashi Gyalson (CEC, LAHDC), Suneel Uniyal (mayor, Dehradun), Kishore Upadhyay (former MLA), KT Gyaltsen, ( former MLA/Speaker), Rigzin Spalbar, (former CEC, LAHDC).

The meet brought together over 19 elected representatives and former representatives of various bodies from the Indian Himalayan region and included MPs, MLAs, chairman of Autonomous District Council, mayor, and other prominent members.

Also read: Plastic ban: Tripura govt to impose ‘pollution cost’ on violators

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