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Discussion on impact of climate change on tea

STAFF REPORTER

GUWAHATI, Jan 30 - “What we do in the next ten years will decide whether we do irreparable damage to planet earth or whether we can save it,” said Nicholas Low, British Deputy High Commissioner, Kolkata, while speaking in the Chevening Conversation on ‘Climate Change and its Impact on Tea’ organised by the British Deputy High Commission here on Wednesday evening.

 

Chevening is the UK’s flagship scholarships and fellowships programme and this event was held with support from the Chevening alumni in East and North East India. In his speech, Low further said, “The UK will be hosting UNFCCC COP 26 in Glasgow in 2020 where building resilience of vulnerable ecosystems will be of immense importance. In the run-up to COP 26, we are pleased to organise this Conversation to bring together relevant stakeholders and discuss strategies to address the related issues.”

 

Speakers at the event included Chevening Rolls Royce Innovation and Science Fellow Ochintya Sharma who said the worst impact of climate change is witnessed in displacement of people and loss of livelihoods, citing the example of Arunachal Pradesh and Majuli Island in Assam.

 

Participating in the event, Prabhat Kamal Bezboruah, Chairman of the Tea Board and also of the Tea Research Association, said that the Tea Board is the implementing partner for a huge climate mitigation programme under the auspices of the Korean organisation Global Green Growth Initiative.

 

Bezboruah added that cutting of trees for timber is a major problem. While large tea companies are conscious about their responsibility, local small operators are cutting trees in an unregulated manner in Nagaland, Arunachal, Meghalaya and Assam making the Brahmaputra river catchment areas more vulnerable.

 

K Balamurugan, Conservator of Forests, Government of West Bengal and a Chevening alumnus, in his speech underlined the vulnerability of the Sunderbans delta area and the Brahmaputra riverine eco systems, both of which are climate change hotspots. He made a case for afforestation, saying stopping deforestation and planting forests would bring down carbon emissions considerably. This is the most effective and inexpensive strategy to tackle climate change, he added.

 

Professor of IIT Guwahati Chandan Mahanta underlined the importance of tracking climate data and handling the issue scientifically. He said that the tea industry in Assam has well-documented climate data for over 110 years.

 

Mrinal Krishna Chaudhury, Assistant Director of Assam Energy, spoke about renewable and alternative energy to save natural resources like coal and oil. He said that there is potential for generating solar energy using rooftop models and barren land in tea plantations. Chaudhury also suggested use of efficient cook stoves by plantation workers to cut down use of firewood.

 

Source: The Assam Tribune, Guwahati, Friday, January 31, 2020