Shillong, March 23: The Meghalaya Democratic Alliance government for the first time presented a climate action budget along with the budget estimates.
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In his budget speech, Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma said the government is emphasizing the centrality of the climate agenda.
The overall allocation towards climate action for 2023-24 is Rs 3,412 crore, which corresponds to about 15 per cent of the state’s budget, he added.
Sangma said that Meghalaya’s ecology is fragile and the livelihoods of lakhs of people depend on nature. Accordingly, focusing on sustainability and building climate resilience are important components of the state’s growth strategy.
He informed that the state has operationalized the State Water Mission through which an integrated and coordinated approach to water management is being put in place.
“The state is currently implementing externally aided projects to the tune of Rs 2,500 crore focusing on environmental sustainability, forest management and water harvesting,” Sangma said while informing that water harvesting structures at 300 locations costing about Rs 250 crore will be initiated during 2023-24.
Stating that Meghalaya is leading the way in implementing interventions for protecting forests, the Chief Minister said about 88 lakh saplings have been planted over the last five years to grow 10,000 hectares of forests.
He said the state is also implementing country’s largest ‘Payment for Ecosystem Services’ project called Green Meghalaya. Under the program, communities are being incentivized to conserve forests.
“We are currently covering about 16,000 hectares of forests and have disbursed over Rs 13 crore during the current financial year,” he said.
Sangma further announced that about 50,000 hectares of forests will be protected under this program and Rs 250 crore will be transferred to the communities over the next five years.