“Going green” means to pursue knowledge and practices that can lead to more environmentally friendly and ecologically responsible decisions and lifestyles, which can help protect the environment and sustain its natural resources for current and future generations. State of Sikkim had initiated their journey on a very conscious note in 1995 when they observed the year as Harit Kranti Varsha generating mass awareness about the environment and about agents likely to bring about negative impacts on the environment. Some of the historical initiatives have been the introduction of compulsory environmental education in schools, launching of the Smriti Van program and Green Mission plan, the creation of the State Biodiversity Park, Eco-Club, Green Funds in schools and colleges, establishing a Climate Change Commission, a ban on the use of plastic, a ban on green felling in forests, a ban on grazing, a ban on killing of wildlife, etc. As a result, there has been palpable improvement manifesting in the increase in forest cover from 43.95 percent in 1993-94 to 46.28 percent now. There has been an increase in the number of wild animals and regeneration in the endangered species of flora and fauna among other results.
Green mission in Sikkim was launched by Hon’ble Chief Minister on 27/2/06 in the presence of his Ministers, officers and the public of Sikkim in the programme organized by the Forest Environment and Wild Life Management department at Chintan Bhawan, Gangtok with some aims and objectives as followings:
- To create green belt and avenues for meeting aesthetic recreational needs to the people
- To beautify the areas for tourist attraction.
- To reduce the surface run-off discharge and checking erosion in the downhill side.
- To create a store house of genetic diversity by planting all the indigenous trees, shrubs, herbs, climbers, creepers, conifers and green foliages including fruits and medicinal plants.
- To promote tourism as a sustainable and eco friendly activity
- To make the State of Sikkim as a Garden State
- Mass Afforestation along the roads and vacant land, streams and water falls, etc.
Sikkim is one of the smallest states with total area of 7096sq. km out of which 80% of the area remains uninhabited under forest and alpine area. There are 84 glacier present in the Tista basin. The total area under glaciers and permanent snowfields is approximately 691.525 sq.km. in the Tista basin and permanent snow cover-stored water in the Tista basin is estimated as 145.05 cu km. Biodiversity may be the buzzword, but as a concept it lies at the heart of ecological research.It refers to the variablility among living organisms from all sources including terrestrial, marine and other aquatic ecosystems and other ecological complexes of which they are part,this includes diversity within species,between species of ecosystem. In this aspect, Sikkim boasts of nearly 26% of the total floral biodiversity available among the total biodiversity of the country although it has only 0.2% of the total land area of the country.It is also rich in faunal biodiversity. Various policies has been initiated to conserve and preserve these rich biodiversity such as Afforestation Work, development and protection of Water Sources, Enforcement of Non bio Degradable Act, pollution control & environment Protection etc. contributing to growth of forest cover higher than the national average. For the relentless environmental protection measures of the small Himalayan, State of Sikkim has also received a reverberating endorsement from the Centre with the Union Tourism Minister, Ms Kumari Selja declaring Sikkim as an ‘Eco-friendly Tourism State’. A Green Bonus has also been announced for the state of Sikkim by The Union Forest Minister, Mr Jairam Ramesh, “Sikkim has been continuously awarded as the Best Tourism Performing State in the North East & the Country”.
Sikkim Chief Minister Pawan Chamling while launching the fifth phase of the Green Mission at Chintan Bhavan stated that: “From the time we came to power in 1994, we undertook policies and measures to protect the environment and our forests. As a result, the forest cover of Sikkim has increased by four per cent till today,”.He also added that “The Green Mission is not of the government alone but it is a mission of the people and we have to set a successful example for the nation.” The Chief Minister Pawan Chamling who also holds the Finance portfolio, presented the Annual Plan Budget for the year 2010-11 allocated by the Planning Commission, Government of India of Rs. 1,175 crores.Likewise, Rs. 20 crores has been allocated for the Sikkim Organic Mission, while Rs. 30 lakhs for the Sikkim Green Mission and another Rs. 30 lakhs for the Bio-technology mission during this financial year. As stated by Baphilia “ Biodiversity conservation cannot be brought about by enforcement of laws. It must come from within because we love the Earth and all living being thereof”.
Courtesy: Voice of Sikkim