One of the effective ways of fighting air pollution which has become one of the major problems facing India is to conserve natural environments. In line with this thought, the Japan International Coordination Agency (Jica) has initiated a project funded by the Japanese government with the main aim of stopping people from shifting cultivation, a traditional practice as well as conserve forests.
The seminar relating to the work component of the project was held on the 12th of September 2018. The seminar was conducted to enlighten field management and district management personnel as well as the villages that will be covered by the first batch of the project. The first phase is expected to cover 22 villages and will be executed by the Nagaland Forest Management Project (NFMP).
The Origin Of The Project
Jica signed an agreement with the government of India on March 31, 2017, with the promise of giving the Indian government Official Development Assistance (ODA) in eight of the country’s ongoing projects. Nagaland happened to be one of the eight projects covered by the agreement. According to inside sources, the Japanese government through Jica has set aside funds of up to INR 400 crore to assist NFMP.
The minister of Environment, Forest & Climate Change, CM Chang, while addressing the attendees at the seminar made it clear that the project will span a space of ten years and charged the stakeholders and project team to be committed to a timely attainment of the objectives of the project.
“The project aims to restore forest on the land being used for shifting cultivation and provide other means of livelihood to the local residents and enable them to contribute towards conserving sustainable environment.”
Source: The Telegraph
Benefits Of The Jica Assisted Program
The entire project is expected to cover 185 villages in eleven districts of Nagaland and would spread across twenty-two forest ranges. The benefits of the project are numerous including the provision of direct and indirect employment for the locals.
Also, the document made public by NFMP highlighted the 3 major components of the program to include strengthening of institutions, livelihood opportunities that will improve the income of households through convergence, and conservation regime strengthening via community participation.
Yuko Shinohara, Jica representative introduced the agency and what it does. She mentioned that Jica is a government agency charged with Japan’s socio-economic development as well as the development of other societies around the world.
The Past Challenges Of The Project
This is not the first time that efforts were made to conserve forest areas. According to Panger Jamir, the principal chief conservator of Forest I, people came forward for forest conservation during the 13th Finance Commission and went as far as signing memorandums of understanding (MoU). However, during the 14th Finance Commission, the central government failed to provide financial assistance for the project. This nearly derailed the project. Jamir also mentioned that the Japanese agency stepped in at the right time to rekindle the project.
The Uniqueness Of The Jica Project
A lot of top officials in the field have commended the Jica project for its uniqueness. According to a retired Indian Forest Service official, consultant AK Bansal, Jica focuses on results rather than achievements. Bansal also mentioned that the project employs science and technology and involves the community in the conservation process.
Important Highlights Of The Seminar
An important event during the seminar was the launching of the official NFMP website which was locally designed and built by an IT Software Company founded in Kohima, Ramietech Solutions. This website was designed in coordination with the NFMP-JICA team.
It was also during this event that the operational manual of NFMP was released. This manual contains all the details of the project and would guide the coordinators and the entire stakeholders on the dos and don’ts of the project as well as how to see it to a successful and expedited completion.
Air pollution is a serious problem in Europe accounting for over 400,000 premature deaths annually and India as a nation cannot afford such a huge loss of her vibrant population. Trees are natural air purifiers and forest conservation can play a major role in air purification especially the removal of carbon dioxide.