- Sujal Pradhan, NET Correspondent, Sikkim
The 5th State Project Steering Committee of the GEF-GOI-UNDP SECURE Himalaya project today approved the Annual Work Plan of 2022-23 with a total budget of 342.64 lakhs with a State Grant in Aid budget of Rs 200.64 lakhs and UNDP Country Office Support of Rs 142 lakhs.
The meeting was chaired by the Minister for Forests, Government of Sikkim Karma Loday Bhutia and was attended by the Zilla Panchayat Adhaksha, West Sikkim and the Additional Chief Secretary-cum-PCCF , Forest & Environment Department ML Srivastava.
The State Project Officer Rajarshi Chakraborty presented the consolidated progress update of the project in the past year and mentioned that due to the COVID restrictions, the project was not able to utilize the allotted budget fully and around 64 lakhs was budget was remaining, which would be processed for revalidation from the MoEF&CC, Govt. of India.
However, despite the challenges, the project was able to form strategic partnerships with line departments and agencies to implement innovative pilot solutions to conservation and sustainable livelihood challenges.
The interventions include – support to the forest department to strengthen management of Khangchendzonga National Park & Shingba Rhododendron Sanctuary, collaboration with State Biodiversity Board to strengthen the Biodiversity Management Committees, supporting KCC to upscale zero-waste model in and around Yuksom, enhancing the value chain of nettle fibers in Dzongu etc. the Hon’ble chair and the other members appreciated the initiatives and stressed the project to maintain proper documentation of all activities.
The draft Annual Work Plan of 2022-23 was presented next by the State Project Officer and proposed activities were deliberated and discussed by the committee.
It includes – follow up action with State Biodiversity Board regarding management of Biodiversity Heritage Sites, post-training mobilization and product value addition for nettle and honey, institutional awareness generation for military and para-military etc.
In his remarks, the ACS-cum-PCCF urged the project team to ensure timely and most effective implementation of activities on ground & to maintain prepare a conclusive documentation of the project impact achieved so far.
The SECURE Himalayas Project was initiated in 2017, the project aims to ensure conservation of locally and globally significant biodiversity land and forest resources in high Himalayan ecosystem spread over four states of Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Uttarakhand and Sikkim.
In Sikkim, the project was launched in 2018 and it strives to initiate a landscape level conservation approach in the conservation of snow leopard and its habitat while ensuring sustainable livelihoods for communities inhabiting the selected areas of North and West districts of Sikkim.