Tamil Nadu gets into mission mode to tackle climate change

Govt announces three big-ticket initiatives to boost state’s climate resilience & protect its ecosystem
Tamil Nadu gets into mission mode to tackle climate change

CHENNAI: Realising the need to enhance environmental protection, the State government on Friday announced three big-ticket initiatives Tamil Nadu Climate Change Mission, Tamil Nadu Wetlands Mission and Green Tamil Nadu Mission with substantial budgetary allocation. The Climate Change Mission would focus on climate change adaptation and mitigation activities at an outlay of Rs 500 crore and will be headed by Chief Minister MK Stalin. 

Environment Secretary Supriya Sahu told Express that being a coastal State with nearly 1,000 km of coastline, the climate change emergency is more manifested here and it is imperative to make informed decisions. She added that a detailed blueprint would be prepared soon.

“International, national and local experts will be roped in to identify the areas of concern and initiate appropriate measures at district-level. We will look at climate budgeting, exploring whether each department can allocate some funds and look at new, innovative green initiatives. Now, the government has included our department in the master plan preparation. This is a visionary exercise,” Sahu said. Officials said the revised Tamil Nadu State Action Plan on Climate Change (TNSAPCC 2.0) would be shortly sent to the Union environment ministry for necessary approval and funding, which would then set the ball rolling. 

Push for five Ramsar Sites
The State also launched the Tamil Nadu Wetlands Mission at a cost of Rs 150 crore, with the objective of ecological restoration of wetlands in Tamil Nadu. It will identify and map 100 wetlands in five years and restore the ecological balance with the focus being on livelihood options. Sahu said efforts are on to push for five Ramsar Sites in the next five years. Currently, Point Calimere is the only Ramsar Site in the State. Pulicat lake, Pallikaranai marshland in Chennai and Kaliveli wetlands in Villupuram are possible contenders. 

Care Earth Trust chairman Jayashree Venkatesan welcomed the budget announcements with references to the environment and told Express that this would ensure the presence of a strategy, backed by action. 

More green cover
The Green TN Mission would aim to increase the total area of forest and tree cover in TN to 33 per cent of the land area of the State. Under this mission, a massive tree plantation programme in collaboration with multiple departments, public and private institutions, and people’s participation would be initiated over 
10 years.

Blue Flag beaches
Environment department officials said the works at Kovalam beach, one among the 13 beaches identified by the Centre for the coveted Blue Flag certification, is being carried out at brisk pace. 

Current green cover

Protected area 

20.27%  (5 national parks, 29 wildlife sanctuaries, 2 conservation reserves)

Tree cover outside forest area 3.63%

Total  23.9%

State’s goal 

33% of the total land area of TN

Stress points

3.1 As per an Anna University study, by 2100, the average day temperature in Tamil Nadu is likely to go up by 3.1 degree Celsius

41% of the State’s coast is eroding, as per the latest report by the Chennai-based National Centre for Coastal Research (NCCR)

4% Tamil Nadu constitutes 4% of India’s land area and is inhabited by 6% of India’s population, but has only 2.5% of India’s water resources

9% The Tamil Nadu State Action Plan on Climate Change (TNSAPCC) states that, by 2100, average annual rainfall in State could reduce by up to 9%

Summer of ’19

A view of the bone-dry Chembarambakkam Lake at the height of the water crisis in Chennai in 2019. Activists have been calling for proactive measures to prepare the city for monsoon failures. With a new government in place, there are hopes that their concerns would get addressed | Ashwin Prasath

The evidence of climate change is all around us. Extreme weather events, like deluges and droughts, as well as hot days are becoming increasingly common

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