Separate building code for mountain states mooted

Itanagar, Oct 8 (IANS) Legislators of India’s mountain states on Thursday called for the creation of a building code separate from that of the rest of the country.

“The legislators asserted that the building code applicable to the whole of the nation is not ideal for buildings in the mountain states,” said a resolution adopted at the end of the GLOBE (Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment) India Legislators Meet.

“It was decided that legislators from mountain states will raise the issue of forming a separate building code for mountains at different forums including state legislative assemblies and parliament,” said the resolution, which comes against the backdrop of the mega-earthquake in Nepal and the disastrous cloudbursts in Uttarakahand and Ladakh.

The legislators’ meet was held as part of the fourth edition of the Sustainable Mountain Development Summit (SMDS-IV) being held in the Arunachal Pradesh capital.

The resolution also welcomed the decision of union Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar to meet legislators from the Himalayan states to discuss issues related to the sustainable development of mountain states during the winter session of parliament.

It was also resolved that MPs from mountain states will meet before the meeting with Javadekar to deliberate and decide upon the issues to be raised by them for the betterment of all mountain states in a sustainable manner and the issues to be raised during the Conference of Parties (COP) 21 climate summit to be held in Paris later this year.

The resolution also said that the legislators, in groups and in their own states, would seriously examine all the issues and come back in the next SMDS with concrete and implementable policies, programmes and solutions to take the mantle of climate change adaptation and mitigation forward.

Noting that 41 districts across 11 mountain states were yet to formulate district disaster management plans, the resolution stated that the districts would be identified in a fast-track manner and a disaster management plan would be formulated for each of the districts within the next one year.

In Thursday’s meeting, Lok Sabha member from Sikkim and GLOBE India secretary-general P.D. Rai suggested that a connection could be established with legislators from Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.

He also stressed the importance of advocacy within the northeastern states so that effective policies and frameworks could be worked out for climate change adaptation and mitigation.

“There must be concrete suggestions from the northeast and Himalayan mountain states to be taken to COP 21 at Paris in December that represents the common problems and issues,” Nagaland legislator Neiphrezo Keditsu said.

He highlighted the possibility of expanding the forum to include parliamentarians of Nepal and Bhutan as they are from an ecologically similar region.

Punchok Tashi, councillor of Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council, stressed the need for a separate set of governmental policies specific for mountain states.

All the legislators present agreed with the need for different policies in the mountain regions keeping in view the different conditions between plains and mountains.

Earlier, in his keynote address, Arunachal Pradesh Assembly Speaker Nabam Rebia said mountain states and their sensitive ecosystems were extremely vulnerable to climate change impacts.

“The dependence of our people on the natural environment for their lifestyle and livelihood is a cause of concern in this changing environment. The increasing pace of large-scale disasters also threatens the life in mountains as we know it,” Rebia said.

Rajya Sabha member from Assam and GLOBE India president Bhubaneswar Kalita highlighted the importance of the climate change negotiations taking place at COP 21 and stressed the need for India to take a strong stance in the matter.

“Legislators can play an important role in bringing awareness among common people and help state governments formulate climate policies,” Kalita added.

In Thursday’s meeting, Arunachal Pradesh legislators decided to come together under the banner of GLOBE-IMI (Integrated Mountain Initiative) Pan Himalayan Legislators’ Forum.

This was the fourth edition of the GLOBE India Legislators’ Meet. The previous editions were held in Sikkim (June 2012), Nagaland (September 2013) and New Delhi (December 2014). The three-day SMDS-IV ends on Friday.

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