Highlighting India’s rich biological diversity and sustained efforts towards conservation of ecology, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday said that India is one of the few countries whose actions are compliant with the Paris Agreement goal of keeping rise in temperature to below two degrees Celsius.
Addressing the inaugural ceremony of the 13th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS COP13) of the United Nations here through video-conference, the Prime Minister added that India will launch its Marine Turtle Policy and Marine Stranding Management Policy this year to address the pollution caused by micro-plastics.
The convention, for the conservation of migratory species, is being hosted by India for the first time with a registration of around 3,250 persons. Union Minister of Environment, Forest & Climate Change (MoEF&CC) Javadekar, his junior minister Babul Supriyo, Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani and Executive Secretary of the Convention Amy Fraenkel were among those present.
Pointing out that conservation of wildlife and habitats were culturally part of India, Modi added, “Emperor Ashoka put great emphasis on prohibiting the destruction of forests and the killing of animals. Inspired by Gandhiji, the ethos of non-violence and protection of animals and nature has been suitably enshrined in the Constitution of India. It also finds reflection in several laws and legislations.”
“Sustained efforts have led to encouraging results. The number of protected areas have increased from 745 in 2014 to 870 in the year 2019 with an area coverage of nearly 1.70 lakh sq km,” said Modi adding that India’s forest cover has increased significantly and it stands at 21.67% of the total geographical area of the country.
On India’s efforts in fighting climate change, Modi said, “India has been championing climate action based on the values of conservation, sustainable lifestyle and green development model. The range of our initiatives include ambitious target of 450 MW in renewable energy, push towards electric vehicles, smart cities, conservation of water, etc… India is one of the few countries whose actions are compliant with the Paris Agreement goal of keeping rise in temperature to below 2 degrees Celsius.”
Modi said that India’s efforts in conservation of species have shown positive results. “The number of tiger reserves has increased from nine since its formative years, to 50 at present. At present, India has the distinction of having a population of almost 2,970 tigers. India has achieved its target of doubling the number of tigers two years before the committed date of 2022,” the PM added.
“We have launched Project Snow Leopard to protect the snow leopard and its habitat in the upper Himalayas. India recently hosted the Steering Committee of the Global Snow Leopard Ecosystem Programme of 12 countries, which resulted in New Delhi declaration envisaging development of country specific framework and cooperation between countries for snow leopard conservation,” Modi said and cited the conservation plans for Asiatic Lion in Gujarat and one-horned rhinoceros in Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal and Assam.
The mascot of the convention is the Great Indian Bustard (GIB), a critically endangered bird of India. Modi said that GIB has been at the focus of India’s conservation efforts. He said that nine eggs of GIB have been successfully hatched from the wild by Indian scientists and forest department officials with technical assistance from International Fund for Houbara Conservation, Abu Dhabi.
In the convention, India has proposed to include three species – GIB, Asiatic elephants and Bengal Florican – in the Appendix I of the CMS. After hosting the convention, India will hold its presidency for the next three years and Modi earmarked India’s focus areas for the three years.
“India is a part of the Central Asian Flyway for migratory birds. With a view to conserve the birds along the Central Asian Flyway and their habitats, India has prepared a National Action Plan for conservation of Migratory Birds along the Central Asian Flyway,” said Modi.
“India would be happy to facilitate preparation of action plan for other countries in this regard. We are keen to take the conservation of migratory birds to a new paradigm with active cooperation of all the Central Asian Flyway Range countries. I also wish to establish an institutional mechanism for undertaking research, studies, assessments, capacity development and conservation initiatives by creating a common platform,” he added.
On marine ecology, Modi said, “India by 2020, will be launching its Marine Turtle Policy and Marine Stranding Management Policy. This will also address the pollution caused by micro-plastics. Single use plastics have been a challenge for environment protection and we in India have been on a mission mode to reduce its usage.”
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