Shillong, Sept 28: Union Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas Hardeep Singh Puri on Thursday presented the ‘Green Ribbon Champions Award’ for outstanding environmental commitment to the Government of Meghalaya.
The award was received by Minister in-charge Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare, Ampareen Lyngdoh, at the 5th Edition of SDG Summit held in New Delhi on September 27-28.
“I’m honoured to be part of the ‘Green Ribbon Champions’ event, where Meghalaya is recognized for its environmental commitment, I would like to extend our appreciation to Network18 for their recognition of our state’s efforts. This platform lets us address multifaceted challenges and seek innovative solutions for our shared future,” Lyngdoh said in her speech.
She said Meghalaya’s stunning landscape, with 94% of forests that are community-owned, underscores the importance of community participation in reversing climate change.
“Our chief minister’s visionary leadership has emphasized community involvement in managing our abundant natural resources. Meghalaya, in 2019, became the first state in India to launch an integrated Water Policy, followed by the Water Mission, promoting sustainable water management and creating livelihood opportunities,” she said.
“Communities have emerged as champions in the conservation of catchment areas. A shining example of their unwavering commitment can be witnessed in the Mawsynram Declaration, where 24 villages from the Mawsynram Block united to preserve critical catchment areas. Communities, exemplified by the Mawsynram Declaration, are champions in conserving catchment areas through collective action, providing a powerful model for other villages,” she added.
Recognizing the need for efficient forest landscape management, Lyngdoh informed, “We’ve initiated Forest Management Plans (FMPs), with 400 in 2022 and 500 more in preparation, to directly benefit our people.”
She said with approximately 80% of the State’s population in rural areas and 70% dependent on agriculture, the Natural Farming initiative promotes nutrition security through multi-cropping, reduced farming costs, and reduced carbon footprint.
She further informed that in 2022, the State government launched the Payment for Ecosystem Scheme (PES) to incentivise communities to conserve forests, covering over 17,00 hectares in its first phase, aiming for 50,000 hectares in five years.
“Our living root bridges, in over 70 villages, are recognized by UNESCO, symbolizing a sustainable balance between our economy and ecology. The seedball initiative engages over 75,000 children to enhance our green cover,” she said.
Recognizing the importance of grassroots natural resource management, the minister said the government of Meghalaya had introduced amendments to the Mahatma Gandhi National Employment Guarantee Act 2005, establishing Natural Resource Management Committee (NRMCs) within every Village Employment Council (VEC). These committees ensure effective and sustainable natural resource management, with an expenditure reaching 45%.
“Our journey towards a sustainable future is built on collaboration, supported by the Meghalaya State Council on Climate Change and Sustainable Development, led by our Chief Minister. We’ve implemented diverse initiatives guided by scientific principles to conserve our environment and combat climate change. Let’s embrace the possibilities, harness community spirit, and address climate change’s impacts. Together, we can forge a path towards a nature-positive, sustainable future,” she asserted.