Assam and Mizoram are the most climatically vulnerable states among all the 12 Indian Himalayan Region states with the vulnerability index being 0.72 and 0.71, followed by Jammu & Kashmir (0.62) and Manipur (0.59), according to climate vulnerability assessment for the Indian Himalayan Region (IHR) using a common framework which was released in New Delhi last week.
The other vulnerable states are Meghalaya and West Bengal (both 0.58), Nagaland (0.57), Himachal Pradesh and Tripura (0.51 both), Arunachal Pradesh (0.47) and Uttarakhand (0.45) which Sikkim as the least vulnerable state with the index being 0.42.
This came to light when the scientiests of Indian Institute of Technology Guwahati and Indian Institute of Technology Mandi in collaboration with Indian Institute of Sciences Bangalore developed a common framework for assessment of climate change vulnerability in all the states in the Himalayan region — Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Tripura, Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Jammu and Kashmir and hilly districts of West Bengal.
The assessment was conducted with support from the Department of Science and Technology (DST) and the Swiss Development Corporation which is implementing the Indian Himalayas Climate Adaptation Program.
The newly developed index is said to be based on socio-economic factors, demographic and health status, sensitivity of agricultural production, forest-dependent livelihoods and access to information, services and infrastructure.
It is also said that the vulnerability to climate change varies from state to state and even district to district within a state apart from various socio-economic factors.
As per the assessment, Assam is highly vulnerable to climate change because of factors like deforestation, large number of marginal farmers, least number of irrigated areas, low per capita income, lack of alternative sources of income and high rates of poverty.
Himalayas are the largest and tallest mountain ranges in the world; bordering 8 countries and covering an area of about 43 lakh sq km. Nearly 1.5 billion people depend on the Himalayas for food, water and energy.
The Himalayan ecosystem is considered extremely fragile and diverse but vital for India through the benefits of forest cover, perennial rivers that in turn provide drinking water, irrigation & hydropower, conserving biodiversity, providing a rich base for high value agriculture and magnificant landscapes for sustainable tourism.
Any impact in the Himalayas would directly impact the lives of millions of people not only of India but in the entire subcontinent.
“I am pleased to learn that the DST in partnership with the 12 Himalayan States has been able to jointly produce a first of its kind vulnerability map and report for the entire Himalayan region,” Union Minister of Science & Technology, Earth Sciences, Environment, Forest & Climate Change, Harsh Vardhan said in a statement in the report. “I am confident that this document will be of immense value to researchers and policy makers for understanding the climate change vulnerabilities and devising and prioritizing adaptation strategies for the Himalayan region.”