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National Mission on Himalayan Studies

Implemented by the Ministry of Environment, Forest & Climate Change (MoEF&CC)
Nodal and Serving hub with G.B. Pant National Institute of Himalayan Environment & Sustainable Development

Executive Summary

The Himalaya, a highly complex and diversified mountain system both in terms of biological and physical attributes, is considered a life support system for millions of people in uplands and much more in lowland areas of India. It acts as climate regulator for much of Asia and is globally recognized for its sacred, spiritual and philosophical values.
While the richness and uniqueness of bio-physical and socio-cultural diversity and rich heritage of Indigenous Knowledge and Practices (IKP) have earned the Himalaya a global recognition, this system being young and geotectonically active remains inherently unstable, fragile, and prone to natural disasters. Also, the vulnerability of this mountain chain towards human-induced disturbances is now well established.
Therefore, being special and change sensitive system, and more importantly due to its life support values, the Himalaya deserves a special attention. It requires conservation and development interventions in sustainable manner, which do not ignore the imperatives of mountain specificities. This, therefore, calls for evolving new paradigms of long-term conservation and sustainable development that help restoring intricate balance between economic interests and ecological imperatives in the region in particular and country in general.
Recognizing the above and realizing that the Himalaya is important for Ecological Security of the country, the Government of India attaches highest priority to protect unique but highly fragile Himalayan ecosystem. The National Mission on Himalayan Studies (NMHS), a Central Sector Grant-in-aid Scheme, therefore, targets to provide much needed focus, through holistic understanding of system's components and their linkages, in addressing the key issues relating to conservation and sustainable management of natural resources in Indian Himalayan Region (IHR). The ultimate goal is to improve quality of life and maintain ecosystem health of the region to ensure long- term ecological security to the country.
As the Mission specifically targets the Indian Himalayan Region (IHR), the jurisdiction of NMHS includes 10 Himalayan states fully (i.e., Arunachal Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim, Tripura and Uttarakhand) and two states partially (i.e., hill districts of Assam and West Bengal).
With a broad Vision to support the sustenance and enhancement of the ecological, natural, cultural, and socio-economic capital assets and values of the IHR, the mission is to launch and support innovative studies and related knowledge interventions. The NMHS envisages to work towards a set of linked and complementary goals to:
  1. 1.Foster conservation and sustainable management of natural resources;
  2. 2.Enhance supplementary and/or alternative livelihoods and overall economic well-being of the region;
  3. 3.Control and prevent pollution in the region;
  4. 4.Foster increased/augmented human and institutional capacities and the knowledge and policy environment in the region; and
  5. 5.Strengthen, greening, and fostering development of climate-resilient core infrastructure and basic services assets.

The Mission strategy is to focus on enhancing livelihoods of local communities, in line with the National Environment Policy, 2006 of the Government, with a basic premise that the most secured and effective basis for conservation is to ensure that people dependent on particular resources obtain better livelihoods from the act of conservation than from the degradation of the resources. The NMHS has identified a list of 7 Broad Thematic Areass:

1. Water Resource Management

2. Livelihood Options and Employment Generation

3. Biodiversity Conservation and Management

4. Skill Development and Capacity Building

5. Infrastructure Development

6. Physical Connectivity

7. Handling of Hazardous Substances

While targeting the aforementioned goals and thematic thrusts, the Mission specifically focuses on achieving the objectives of:
  1. 1.Building a body of scientific and traditional knowledge on the aforesaid indicative thematic areas;
  2. 2.Building a network of practitioners engaged in working solutions to problems in the thematic areas;
  3. 3.Demonstrating workable/implementable/replicable solutions to the problems in the thematic areas.

The core philosophy is to enhance the focus and fund for supporting demand- driven research and technological innovations along with institutional strengthening and capacity building. Overall attempt is to work towards coordinated policies, duly informed decisions based on empirical evidences and best practices, thereby providing enabling environment for innovations and multi-stakeholders engagement in protection of Himalayan ecosystems and socio-economic development of the local communities.
Towards achieving the objectives, the Scheme follows a systematic approach by way of supporting Studies, Pilots and Interventions under three categories:
  1. 1.Small Grants (up to Rs 50 lakhs): targeted action-oriented research studies for solving location- specific problems;
  2. 2.Medium Grants (up to Rs 500 lakhs): pilots for standalone projects, potentially up-scalable projects and those currently lacking in extension outreach;
  3. 3.Large Grants (over Rs 500 lakhs): implementation of doable, achievable and feasible ideas at a scale and size commensurable with the budget of the Scheme.

While clear-cut guidelines are in place for developing projects under these categories, the Mission lays greater emphasis and preference to innovative and multi-disciplinary projects that adopt landscape based/level approach and may have trans-boundary linkages. It is further underlined that the pilots/projects having clear policy dimensions and knowledge outcomes would be given higher weightage.
The Scheme, in addition, also envisages facilitating knowledge building in IHR Institutions by way of:
  1. 1.Creating various fellowship and academic (national) exchange programmes,
  2. 2.Upgrading infrastructure of key academic and research institutions,
  3. 3.Promoting education, awareness and outreach programmes and events,
  4. 4.Developing an online system for monitoring and dissemination of results of the studies,
  5. 5.Creating a central capacity building/training unit or establishing Centre for Himalayan studies;
  6. 6.Supporting Masters Programmes in Himalayan Universities;
  7. 7.Organizing seminar, conferences, symposia, colloquium, etc.,
  8. 8.Promoting international, national and regional conferences, Workshops, etc.

The Scheme will be implemented by the Ministry of Environment, Forest & Climate Change (MoEF&CC), and it will have its nodal and serving hub with G.B. Pant Institute of Himalayan Environment & Development (GBPIHED) with a fully dedicated Project Management Unit for the NMHS. To guide the overall implementation, a Steering Committee, Chaired by the Secretary MoEF&CC, is in place. Also, a Scientific and Technical Advisory Group (STAG) with wide base representation of Stakeholder Groups and under the Chair of Additional Secretary, MoEF&CC, has been constituted. Recognizing that the Indian Himalayan states will have differential needs and priorities to be addressed through in-depth studies, representation of all Himalayan States has been ensured in STAG so as to provide equal opportunity to such needs/priorities of states to be covered under the NMHS. While periodically reviewing the progress of studies, the STAG will advise mid-term corrections, if any, and accept the Final Technical Report (FTR). The overall implementation of National Mission on Himalayan Studies would be monitored periodically, at least twice in a year, by the Steering Committee. The NMHS is a new Central Sector (CS) Scheme of the Ministry of Environment, Forest & Climate Change, Govt. of India, wherein a provision of Rs. 67.10 crores and 100 crore under Major head '3435' has been made in the financial years 2015-16 and 2016-17, respectively. It is proposed to carry forward the initiative to the next Five Year Plan with standard incremental increase of 10-15% every year.

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Last Updated on: 23.04.2019