According to a national climate vulnerability assessment report, eight Indian states — Jharkhand, Mizoram, Odisha, Chhattisgarh, Assam, Bihar, Arunachal Pradesh and West Bengal — are highly vulnerable to climate change.
The report pointed out that these states, mostly in the eastern part of the country, require more priority of adaptation interventions.
Amongst all states, Assam, Bihar and Jharkhand have over 60 per cent of districts in the category of highly vulnerable districts.
One of the major reason for vulnerability for Assam is the lack of forest area per 100 rural population, despite the fact that the state has a forest cover of 42 per cent, followed by low road density, the report said.
Taking the case of Bihar, the report mentioned the poor health support to be the key vulnerability reason in 36 districts, accompanied by a high percentage of limited and small operational holders in 24 districts. The lack of implementation of the rural employment scheme MGNREGA, causing a lack of alternative livelihood opportunities, appeared as a key driver in 14 districts of Bihar, followed by a lack of women’s participation in the workforce in 11 districts.
In Jharkhand, lack of crop insurance and rainfed agriculture were key reasons for vulnerability.
The report, titled “Climate Vulnerability Assessment for Adaptation Planning in India Using a Common Framework”, which recognises the most vulnerable states and districts in India with respect to current climate risk and key factors of vulnerability, was released by Department of Science and Technology (DST) Secretary Ashutosh Sharma.
Himachal Pradesh, Telangana, Sikkim and Punjab have been classified as lower-middle vulnerable states. Uttarakhand, Haryana, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Nagaland, Goa and Maharashtra have been described as states with low vulnerability.
“We have seen how extreme events are on rise both in terms of their number and severity. Mapping the parts of India that are vulnerable to such changes will help initiating climate actions at the ground level.
“The report should be made easily accessible to all stakeholders so that it can benefit climate-vulnerable communities across India through development of better-designed climate change adaptation projects,” said Mr Sharma.
He also recommended that the maps should be made possible to people who need it. “Assessing vulnerability was the first step towards assessing climate risk. There are two other components like hazard and exposure that need to be also assessed to arrive at overall climate risk.
“DST would take up these assessments in the next phase along with sectoral vulnerability assessments and assessments at sub-district levels,” said Akhilesh Gupta, Head, Climate Change Programme (CCP), DST.
Prof N H Ravindranath retired climate change expert from the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), told that the report has helped recognise the most vulnerable states, districts and panchayats and will help in prioritising adaptation investment, improving and performing adaptation programmes.
Director of IIT Mandi Professor Ajit Kumar Chaturvedi and Director of IIT Guwahati T G Sitharaman believed that the report will be taken up by the states for initiating climate action.
A total of 94 representatives from 24 states and two Union Territories partook in the nationwide operation jointly supported by the DST and the Swiss Agency for Development & Cooperation (SDC).
Corinne Demenge, Head, Swiss Cooperation Office, Embassy of Switzerland in India, believed that the evaluations will contribute to the development of more targeted climate change projects and that they will support the implementation and the potential revisions of the State Action Plans on Climate Change.
“The assessments can further be used for India’s reporting on the Nationally Determined Contributions under the Paris Agreement. And finally, these assessments will support India”s National Action Plan on Climate Change,” she added.
The evaluation will help policy-makers in beginning appropriate climate actions. It will also help climate-vulnerable communities across India through the development of better-designed climate change adaptation projects.
In a developing country such as India, vulnerability assessment is considered as an important activity to develop proper adaptation plans and programmes.