'Rural development schemes should attain greening objectives'

New Delhi, Jan 4 (IANS) The rural development ministry should have a dedicated cell to attain "greening objectives" through its various schemes in villages, said a report released Friday.

The report "Greening Rural Development in India", released jointly by Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Ahluwalia, Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh and Environment Minister Jayanthi Natarajan, has examined six flagship programmes of the government and suggested measures to achieve greening outcomes.

Prepared with support from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), it recommends an annual green report by the ministry to summarise major green achievements and outcomes during the year.

Ramesh said that the schemes of his ministry had an annual budget of around Rs.75,000 crore and have immense potential to contribute to the goal of sustainable poverty reduction and efficient use of natural resources.

"Each of the schemes needs to incorporate a set of green objectives in its implementation and make delivery of green results a part of policy and guidelines," he said.

The report also recommends that the ministry identify a set of green outcomes and prepare green guidelines that include a set of non-negotiable principles, and suggests flexibility so that people and institutions adopt creative and innovative approaches to achieve green outcomes.

Lise Grande, United Nations Resident Coordinator for India, emphasised the importance of greening in the context of building the capacity of rural populations.

"Greening development schemes make good economic sense. Evidence shows that done the right way, greening will create jobs, stimulate rural economies and help build the resilience of poor communities to withstand natural disasters," she said.

The report says that greening rural development refers to five broad green outcomes including improved natural resource conservation, increased efficiency of resource use, reduced negative environmental impacts, strengthened climate resilience of communities and contribution to climate change mitigation.

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