JICA’s Financial Support with INR650 Crore for Himachal Pradesh Ecosystems Management and Livelihood Improvement

North Gazette News/ Shimla

Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) signed an agreement with the Government of India to provide Official Development Assistance (ODA) loan of 11,136 million Japanese Yen (approximately INR 650 Crore) for the“Project for Improvement of Himachal Pradesh Forest Ecosystems Management and Livelihoods”.

The ODA loan’s conditions are very concessional, i.e. 1.3% interest rate for project activities and 0.01% interest rate for consulting services, and 30 years of repayment period (including 10 years of the grace period).

The objective of the Project is tomanage and enhanceforest area ecosystems in the project area, by sustainable forest ecosystem management, biodiversity conservation, livelihood improvement support and strengthening institutional capacity, thereby contributing to environmental conservation and sustainable socio-economic development in the state of Himachal Pradesh.

The Himachal Pradesh Forest Department (HPFD) is the Executing Agency of the Project. The project activities will be implemented in districts including Bilaspur, Shimla, Mandi, Kullu, Kinnaur, and Lahaul&Spiti. The unique feature of the State is that it falls within Himalayan Biodiversity Hotspot*, and endangered species of the State are listed in Red List of International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). However, threats to rich biodiversity exist, such as loss of degradation of habitat caused by migratory graziers, over-exploitation of firewood and fodder, and forest fire among other dangers. In addition, incidences of human-wildlife conflict are prevalent in some areas, especially outside the protected areas mainly due to human activities.

In Himachal Pradesh, biodiversity conservation has not been undertaken in a focused manner primarily due to lack of awareness on value and importance of biodiversity among local residents and field level forest officers. In this context, the Project aims to contribute to biodiversity conservation and improvement of ecosystem services in forest areas for sustainable socio-economic development in Himachal Pradesh. Since more women are involved in forest activities in Himachal Pradesh, the Project will provide women incentives to participate in ecosystems management activities, such as through Self-Help Groups.

JICA has been contributing towards the inclusive and dynamic development of Himachal Pradesh through its various projects. JICA has provided an ODA loan of JPY 3,493 million (approximately INR 200 crore) for “Swan River Integrated Watershed Management Project”.JICA has also extended its support for Himachal Pradesh Crop Diversification Promotion Project and Technical Cooperation Project for Crop Diversification in Himachal Pradesh.

The ODA loan agreement was signed between H.E. Mr. Sujan R. Chinoy, Ambassador of India to Japan and Junichi Yamada, Senior Vice President, JICA at the Iikura House of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Tokyo.

Takema Sakamoto, JICA India Office said, “JICA recognizes the importanceof livelihood improvement and poverty alleviation in forest areas and the Project will work on improvingthe quality of forests and grasslands/pastures. This project shall further contribute towards ecological rehabilitation in Himachal Pradesh and growth in income of people around inthe areas. It will also help conservethe forest ecosystem by promoting a participatory and collaborative management approach.”

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