Climate Change

SANDRP critique of India’s NAPCC: There is little hope here

For Full report, see:


The purpose of this study is to provide an Indian civil society view on the contents of the Indian government’s national action plan to confront the threat posed by climate change. The study aims to highlight the equity issues, the options assessment for energy production and the needs for sustainable adaptation practices. The study also aims to give an overview of the available information resources about the impact of climate change on India and tries to map out various actors & their roles. However this is vast issue and this brief study cannot include all the aspects in this regard. The focus is more on water, agriculture and energy related issues, since these are the focus areas of the work of the South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers & People (SANDRP).

The Prime Minister of India released India’s National Action Plan on Climate Change on June 30, 2008. The 47 page document, prepared by the Prime Minister’s Council on Climate Change, is available at In the NAPCC document the Government of India presents the challenges of a low carbon pathway through its eight missions: Solar Mission, Mission for Enhanced Energy Efficiency, Mission on Sustainable Habitat, Water Mission, Mission for Sustaining the Himalayan Ecosystem, Mission for a “Green India”, Mission for Sustainable Agriculture and Mission on Strategic Knowledge for Climate Change.  The Plan says “each mission will be tasked to evolve specific objectives spanning the remaining years of the 11th Plan and the 12th Plan period 2012-13 to 2016-17…. Comprehensive Mission documents detailing objectives, strategies, plan of action, timelines and monitoring and evaluation criteria would be developed and submitted to the Prime Minister’s Council on Climate Change by December 2008”.

However, the government has not consulted the public in general or even specific stakeholders while formulating the action plan or the mission documents. Even in the third week of February 2009, it is not known if (except in case of the National Water Mission) the mission documents have been submitted to the PM’s Council by December 2008 as stated in the NAPCC. The NAPCC starts on a wrong foot with continued emphasis on “sustaining its rapid economic growth”. India’s huge majority of rural population and the poor, who depend on natural resources for their livelihood, would be most at risk due to the climate change. However, the National Plan is likely to work only to the advantage of the already privileged elite, with all the adverse impacts going to the share of already disadvantaged. This is particularly evident from the way the so called Clean Development Mechanism projects have progressed so far here.

In Water Sector, the lip service to conservation of wetlands, increasing groundwater recharge and irrigation efficiency not withstanding, the plan is status quoist in attempting to push for more big dams, irrigation projects, hydropower projects, interlinking of rivers and such other long distance water transfer projects. This is in spite of the increasing evidence of non performance of such projects. On the other hand, there are many examples where the community driven processes have shown that through local water systems, it is possible to achieve equitable, sustainable and pro poor development, but such systems have no worthwhile place in the plan. This is particularly true for Agriculture sector, where India’s lifeline is groundwater, and which can only be sustained through local water systems. Here the emphasis on GM crops is completely misplaced and unjustified, in stead, what is required is sincere efforts to push organic farming and promoting water and resource efficient and also high yielding methods like the System of Rice Intensification. In Energy sector, while the emphasis on energy efficiency is welcome, the continued and increased reliance on mega thermal power plants, big hydropower and nuclear projects cannot be termed environment friendly or carbon friendly. Particularly when there is so little emphasis on peak hour power demand management.

For some of the key sectors and overall, this document also provides detailed recommendations from Civil Society groups, including from two widely attended meetings and from a discussion on Solution Exchange platform on water sector. The central message of the analysis of the process of formulation and content of India’s National Action Plan is reflected in the title: There is Little Hope here. NAPCC lacks proper perspective, urgency and sincerity in taking note of contributions of various sectors and classes in India’s current and future emissions. The plan is not based on any democratic process of assessing least cost options before the society. While there are a number of positive suggestions in the plan, they are not sufficient in inspiring confidence since we have yet to see effective action or action plans to ensure their implementation. It seems India is going to miss an opportunity to push for a people friendly and environment friendly development path.


Note: This publication of SANDRP in Feb 2009 is now being put up on the blog to make it available to the blog readers since this is an important publication and remains relevant today. It is one of the few critiques of the India’s National Action Plan on Climate Change.

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