Sunday, February 19, 2017

STH Activities: Attending two excellent seminars in Delhi (9/10/11Feb2017)

Event 1 : Mountain and the City at India International Center (Delhi, 09/10Feb2017)
You can read more about the seminar here
Event 2 : IMI's 'Meet of the Mountain States (MoMS IV) at WWF (Delhi, 10/11Feb2017)

 Brief writeup on Event 2

Fourth Edition of Meet of the Mountain States held in New Delhi
10 February 2017, New Delhi : The fifth edition of the Meet of the Mountain States organized by the Integrated Mountain Initiative was held today at WWF India Secretariat in New Delhi. The Meet deliberated on subjects of water security, skill development and disaster risk reduction in the mountains. The Meet was inaugurated by Hon’ble Minister of State for Home Affairs, Shri Kiren Rijiju. Members of Parliament, Dr. Thokchom Meinya (Manipur), Shri Vincent Pala (Meghalaya), Shri Jitendra Chaudhury (Tripura), Shri. P.D. Rai (Sikkim) and former Member of Parliament Shri Tarun Vijay were also in attendance.
The Integrated Mountain Initiative (IMI) is a civil society organisation formed in 2011, aimed at redefining the architecture of sustainable development across the 12 mountain states in the Indian Himalayan Region, comprising  10 states of Arunachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Meghalaya, Manipur, Mizoram, Nagaland, Tripura, Sikkim, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir  and the hill districts of West Bengal and Assam. It is a collective initiative for recognizing the value of mountain regions and enabling people to realise its potential by integrating the knowledge and experiences of multiple stakeholders. IMI operationalizes this platform through its annual Sustainable Development Summits (SMDS) and Meet of Mountain States (MoMS) by engaging different stakeholders to come together and engage in informed debates on themes relevant to the mountain regions.
Shri Rijiju released the proceedings of Sustainable Mountain Development Summit V held in September 2016 in Leh.
Shri Rijiju stressed on the need to work in convergence to ensure sustainable development in the mountain regions of India. He also highlighted the dilemmas of livelihoods in the development context and environmental consequences of development facing the mountain cities which has led to severe damage in valleys of Kullu and Manali and hill cities of Mussoorie, Nainital amongst others.
As a part of the Meet, a legislators’ dialogue was also held. All Members of Parliament insisted on the need to focus on research in mountain subjects such as glaciology, hydrology, renewable energy, human-wildlife conflict and biodiversity.
Shri P.D. Rai also shared the path followed by Sikkim towards sustainable development. He also mentioned that the state is moving to build a legislation to mainstream the subject in all departments and amongst the citizens.
The Meet was convened by Shri Alemtemshi Jamir, President of IMI and former Chief Secretary of Nagaland. Several eminent leaders of the development sector from organisations such as FAO (UN), NECTAR, UNDP, NSDC, ICIMOD, SDC, WWF and senior officials from ministries and government departments were in attendance. There was rich sharing of ideas by the officials and the development agencies with respect to building collaborative action plan for mountain. They emphasized the need for stronger mountain partnerships and integration of sustainable development goals into mountain development. Skill development emerged as one of the areas where a lot can be done.
Dr Divya Nambiar from Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship spoke about theneed to prepare a ‘Sustainable Skill Development Plan for Mountain States’. It was pointed out that skill building needs to factor in the socio-cultural and geographical features of mountains and focus on self-employment and entrepreneurship. Therefore a Sustainable Skill Development Plan for Mountain States will come up with innovative new ideas to scale up skill training initiatives in the region in a manner that is responsive to local requirements and at the same time sustainable, over time. Importantly, it must also align with theaspirations of young citizens in the region.
Mr Shyam Khadka, Country Representative, FAO pointed out that Information on the mountain systems is very limited and hence establishingMountain Partnership could help generate this knowledge base which is limited tothe mountain communities at the moment. He also highlighted the need to fill knowledge gaps and community based solutions to problems in the mountain states, and that IMI must work on this aspect.
Mr Ravi Singh, CEO, WWF India also emphasized that to find solutions to the problems, communities must be integrated within the systems aimed at finding solutions and that their voices must be integrated into policymaking processes.  
Dr Sanjiv Nair, NECTAR, pointed out that Disaster risk reduction measures need to be community based and managed with micro insurance at community level
Mr Brij Mohan Rathore, Country Focal Person, ICIMOD spoke about creation of value chains for sustainable employment opportunities and entrepreneurship through network of entrepreneursin mountain states and trans boundary landscape programmes.
The need to focus on sustainable mountain cities and climate change was also a recurrent theme. IMI announced that the next Sustainable Mountain Development Summit which will be held in Sep, 2017 in Aizawl, Mizoram will take up these issues for further deliberation.
Members’ Conclave
First IMI Members’ Conclave was held on 11 February following the Meet of the Mountain States.
Members’ Conclave was a powerful congregation of individuals and institutions who are members of the State Forums or Chapters. It included deliberations of issues raised by members from different states, presentations by the state chapters where they highlighted the status of and the activities being carried out by the chapters.  IMI’s ongoing projects were discussed with all the members and strategy for the coming years was also discussed.
Sustainable Mountain Development Summit VI to be held in Aizawl, Mizoram was discussed with all the members. Dr. Lalbiak Ngente presented the concept of SMDS VI on behalf of Mizoram Sustainable Development Forum. All members made suggestions and committed to the organisation of the Summit. 

Visit IMI website here

Praful Rao,
Kalimpong,
Kalimpong District

PS: Kalimpong has become a district w.e.f 14Feb2017


 

Saturday, January 21, 2017

STH Activities (18/19Jan2017) : Participating in Project 'LANDSLIP' and an awareness program with Colby College (USA)

In the bottom slide (with Colby College) STH President is 1 and Prof Roy 2.

An excerpt from the Telegraph on Project 'Landslip' is reproduced below :-

"Darjeeling, Jan. 19:
An international science consortium has picked Darjeeling in north Bengal and the Nilgiris in south India to test a new mechanism for landslide risk reduction through better assessment, early warning systems, and improved community preparedness.
Scientists from India, Italy, and the UK plan to combine terrain geology with weather data to improve their understanding of landslide dynamics and use that information for risk assessment and alert local communities to potential hazard zones.
Tracts of the Darjeeling hills are highly vulnerable to landslides that have killed many people over the years. In July 2015, more than 40 people died or went missing in landslides across the hills. Some areas of eastern Sikkim will also be included in the project.
The scientists caution that their four-year project, funded by the UK's Natural Environment Research Council, the Department for International Development, through the Science for Humanitarian Emergencies and Resilience programme, does not seek to predict landslides.
"First and foremost, we are not predicting landslides. What we are doing is looking at and collecting information on landslide hazards," said Helen Reeves, the director of science for engineering geology with the British Geological Survey.
The Geological Survey of India, a major partner in the project, will provide the landslide data available for the area since 1899.
"One of the reasons for choosing this area is that data availability, landslide susceptibility, and varied terrain conditions," said Saibal Ghosh, the director of GSI. "Tea gardens here, too, have maintained rainfall data for decades and it will also be useful."
Bruce Malamud, professor of natural and environmental hazards at King's College, London, said: "The project will look at a combination of things such as elevation, geology, and landslide susceptibility. We are basically saying there could be an elevated chance here, and a reduced chance there."
The scientists plan to generate early warning systems to disseminate potential hazard information among local communities. The Italian National Research Council has already developed a forecasting system that regularly alerts local governments.
The India project will also seek to involve district administrations to reach out to communities, although the medium of communication is yet to be determined. "We will look for what best suits the local communities," said Malamud. "Maybe, we could work out a system that could use text messages, social (media), smartphones, radio, or other wireless systems."
Scientists from India's Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham University, the UK Met Office, Newcastle University, Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche, Italy, among other institutions are also collaborating on the project.
Praful Rao of Save the Hills, an NGO based in Kalimpong which is working on natural disasters, said: "The very fact that an international consortium is working on landslides in the region is a major development. This would lead to a better understanding and preparedness for risk reduction."
The project also plans to invite experts from Afghanistan to share experiences with regard to landslides."

Praful Rao,
Kalmpong,
Dist Darjeeling

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Good news for the Darjeeling - Sikkim Himalaya - an Event of Note (18Jan2017, Darjeeling)

After a relatively quiescent Dec2016, I am glad that 2017 is opening up with a visit to Darjeeling by a high powered group of scientists from the UK, Italy and India and all working on landslides.


STH will be attending the seminar on 18Jan2017 at Darjeeling.
You can read more about LANDSLIP here

Praful Rao,
Kalimpong,
Dist Darjeeling

Monday, December 5, 2016

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

STH Stormwatch : Cyclone 'NADA' brews up in the Bay of Bengal (30Nov2016)

Cyclone 'NADA' has  formed in the Bay of Bengal and is expected to make landfall in Tamil Nadu in the early hours of the morning on 02Dec2016.
Thus far in 2016, we have had 3 Cyclones forming in the Bay of Bengal - Roanu, Kyant and now Cyclone NADA

Praful Rao.
Kalimpong,
Dist Darjeeling

Thursday, November 17, 2016

STH Activities : With Component 'V' of NDMA team for drawing up a National Strategy on Landslide Risk Managment (24-25Oct2016)

Subsequent to the first meeting called by NDMA for the Formulation of a National Strategy on Landslide Risk Management, Component 'V' which is responsible for preparation of Mountain Zone Regulations and Policies met for two days in Kalimpong.
Being a member of this Component,I am extremely happy that the 6 member team could visit the Chibo-Pashyor landslide area in Kalimpong and also interact with affected members of the community in a focused group discussion.


For those interested, the following six major components have been formed for formulating the National Landslide Strategy by the NDMA :-

I. Generation of User-Friendly Landslide Hazard Maps

II. Development of Landslide Monitoring and Early Warning System (EWS)

III.Awareness Programmes

IV. Capacity Building and Training of stakeholders

V. Preparation of Mountain Zone Regulations & Policies

VI. Stabilization and Mitigation of Landslides & Creation of Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) for Landslide Management 

Praful Rao,
Kalimpong,
Dist Darjeeling


Sunday, November 13, 2016

STH Activities : With IIIT (Hyderabad) team for landslide familiarization (08/09Oct2016)


One of the central roles of STH has been spreading awareness about landslides - a hazard form whose impact on mountain communities has been neglected and under-estimated to a large degree the world over.
As such we have used every opportunity to engage with visiting teams both from India and abroad in the many landslide familiarization visits we have made over the years - records of all such visits are documented in this blog. In Oct 2016 as a part of this program, we took two visiting delegates of IIIT (Hyderabad) for a tour of landslides in and around Kalimpong on 08/09Oct2016. The institute is working on landslide prediction equipment which they would probably be installing in the Chibo-Pashyor landslide zone.

Praful Rao,
Kalimpong'
Dist Darjeeling

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

STH Stormwatch : Low Pressure in Bay of Bengal (01Nov2016) and update (04Nov2016)


The system has intensified into a depression and is expected eventually become a cyclone.

Praful Rao
Kalimpong,
Dist Darjeeling

Thursday, October 27, 2016

STH stormwatch : Death of Cyclone 'Kyant'

Extract of JTWC statement on Cyclone 'KYANT' :-
' UPPER-LEVEL ANALYSIS SHOWS A POINT SOURCE JUST TO THE EAST OF THE SYSTEM INTRODUCING SOME EASTERLY WIND SHEAR NOT CONDUCIVE FOR REDEVELOPMENT. THE UPPER LEVEL ENVIRONMENT IS EXPECTED TO REMAIN UNFAVORABLE AS THE DEEP-LAYERED RIDE BUILDS ESTABLISHING PREDOMINANT EASTERLY FLOW ALOFT. THE REMNANTS OF TS KYANT IS EXPECTED TO CONTINUE ON A TRACK TO THE WEST-SOUTHWEST ALONG THE SOUTHERN PERIPHERY OF THE BUILDING DEEP-LAYERED RIDGE TO THE NORTHWEST. THIS IS THE FINAL WARNING ON THIS SYSTEM BY THE JOINT TYPHOON WRNCEN PEARL HARBOR HI. THE SYSTEM WILL BE CLOSELY MONITORED FOR SIGNS OF REGENERATION.'

Praful Rao,

Kalimpong,
Dist Darjeeling