Darjeeling’s Environmental Challenges with Dr. Kamal Bawa | Ep. 4 of Echoes

by | Aug 20, 2021

What follows is a short excerpt from Episode 4 of Echoes | Organised by the Selim Hill Collective and Dorje Teas.

Mr. Kamal Bawa – Darjeeling has been a second home for almost 60 years and I have seen for the last 60 years the history of Darjeeling unfold in front of my eyes. I think we we face a number of problems in Darjeeling. I think we all know the urbanization challenge – the uncontrolled
growth of the city bursting at the seams; a city designed for perhaps not more than 20 000 people holding on to a population five or seven times larger or even more. Then there is a challenge of rural landscapes, tremendous land use change, deforestation, expansion of agriculture, expansion of tea states. Broken governance, lack of adequate policies and essentially lack of leadership are all problems faced by Darjeeling.

We have to see a society living in harmony with nature and how do we achieve this vision?

Our mission at ATREE is to achieve this vision in three ways –
1. One is to generate knowledge to address really our very very pressing
environmental challenges,

2. To enable the use of this knowledge by policy makers and society,

3. To train the next generation of environmental leaders

Here are some real climate change effects –
A. There are extreme events – downpours heavy downpours and then periods without rain even during the monsoon.
B. Shifts in the distribution of species and I think one notable example which people have experienced in Darjeeling is now you see mosquitoes at altitudes where you have not seen before.                                                                                                                                                                                                                      C. Browning of forest – globally mountains and the forests are facing stress and the term browning is used as opposite of greening. They are showing stress in terms of water availability and that should be a cause of concern.

I think our actions have to be based on science and information using technology. Secondly, we have to be more active in public engagement. There is huge talent in the young generation -thousands of college going students, school going students.

Rajah Banerjee –  One of the aims of the Selim Hill Collective is to try to move away from the conventional model of a commercially exploitable plantation towards that of a more just and inclusive tea garden. In this approach we believe that all stakeholders are very important. The local community, the biodiversity – in fact just a couple of days ago a leopard was spotted very close to the house within the tea garden. We will be sending pictures to all those who have joined us today by email of the leopard that was spotted by members of our family at the garden as well.

You can watch the entire video by heading over to our YouTube page or clicking on the link below. 

 

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