While presiding over a state level function of World Environment Day at Hotel Peterhoff here today, Chief Minister, Thakur Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu announced that State Government would frame a policy within a year to find alternatives to plastic and would encourage industries to seek an alternative for plastic and gradually thereafter will enforce a complete ban on use of plastic in the State.
He stressed for the utilization of plastic in road construction and emphasized for incorporating the culture and environment oriented courses in the educational curriculum to promote environmental awareness amongst the children. The Government is actively seeking alternatives to boost and preserve the environment said the Chief Minister, and urged people to cooperate with the government's efforts in environmental protection and reducing pollution.
He highlighted the impacts of climate change, such as changing weather patterns and increasing water crisis across the country, which is evident from the fact that many States were demanding extra water from Himachal. Chief Minister shed light on the first budget while emphasizing his dedication to shaping a greener future for Himachal Pradesh.
He said that to address environmental issues, the present State Government has presented a green budget, allocating funds for renewable energy initiative besides focusing on combating single-use of plastic. Over the next three years, government vehicles will be phased out and replaced with electric vehicles.
The production of solar and wind energy is also being promoted in the State, he said. The Chief Minister said that in line with protecting the environment, and to further support eco-friendly transportation, the State Government was providing 50% subsidy on the purchase of e-buses, e-trucks, and e-taxis in the State.
This initiative aims to reduce carbon emissions and increase the income of those involved in the transportation sector, he added. Himachal Pradesh is taking the lead in establishing green corridors thereby becoming the first State in the country to do so and infrastructure development is underway for this purpose.
The Government is also focusing on the production of green hydrogen due to which positive outcomes were expected in the near future. He said that a target has been set to transform Himachal Pradesh into a Green Energy State by March 31, 2026.
Highlighting the State's efforts in promoting green energy, the Chief Minister urged the Central Government to increase the State's share in hydro power projects. He said that Himachal Pradesh is committed to its role as a pioneer in sustainable energy initiatives.
In support of environmental conservation, the Chief Minister distributed 9 Dona-Pattal machines to women self-help groups and provided solar lights to 20 Ekal Naris (single women) as a mean of promoting sustainable practices. He also released the batch and poster of 'Mission Life.'
As a symbol of promoting environmental awareness, the Chief Minister was presented a jacket made from recycled plastic waste. The Chief Minister also inaugurated the exhibition of various self help groups and other organizations.
Chief Secretary Prabodh Saxena said that which is the result of the foresightedness of the Chief Minster. He detailed about the comprehensive programme being implemented by the State Government to safeguard the environment encompassing district level initiatives, Panchayat level projects etc.
Though the forest cover has increased in the state, but waste management is a challenge still, he said and it was mandatory to look for Plastic substitute. Cluster Head of GiZ, Mohd. Al Khawad emphasized that climate change is a significant concern in the Himalayan region, with its consequences becoming increasingly evident today. GiZ is actively engaged in addressing this issue through four key projects in Himachal Pradesh.
These projects focus on Forest Management, Wetland Management, Water Security and Water Management. Through these initiatives, GiZ aims to combat climate change and promote sustainable practices in the region.
United Nations Goodwill Ambassador, Dia Mirza highlighted the adverse affects of plastic waste and its presence in human blood stream through intake of various eatables. The government and industries have to think together to tackle this menace. She exhorted to work with collective responsibility, adding that alternative to plastic was the need of the hour.
Welcoming the Chief Minister and other dignitaries on the occasion, Director, Environment, Science, Technology and Climate Change Lalit Jain said that this year World Environment Day is being celebrated on the theme ‘Beat Plastic Pollution’ to create awareness about plastic pollution.
He said that the department organizes several programs from time to time to make people aware and also gives prizes to encourage better work. MLAs Harish Janartha, Kewal Singh Pathania, Principal Advisor (IT & Innovations) Gokul Butail, OSD to Chief Minister Gopal Sharma and other dignitaries were also present on the occasion.