Pes Scheme Meghalaya|Payment for Eco-System Services

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The Deputy Commissioner, East Khasi Hills District, Isawanda Laloo, launched the Payment for Ecosystem Services (PES) Scheme at the Conference Hall, Deputy Commissioner’s office, Shillong on Wednesday.Laloo in her address highlighted the objectives of PES, stating that the scheme, being implemented under Community Led Landscape Management Project (CLLMP), is aimed at providing financial support to villages, communities, clans and individuals willing to conserve existing natural forests for a period of 30 years in order to counter the losses due to conservation measures and sought the cooperation of all concerned for successful implementation of the scheme in the district.

It may be mentioned that the PES scheme in the state was launched by Chief Minister, Conrad K Sangma on June 13.The scheme provides benefits through financial support of Rs 8000 per hectare per year for five years. In addition, an additional reward amount of Rs 5000 per hectare per year will also be given to those natural forests already registered as community reserve with the Forest Department and an amount of Rs 2000 per hectare per year will be given to those with a very dense forests or traditionally recognized as sacred grove or has a living root bridge or located in eco-sensitive zones around protected areas like national parks, wildlife sanctuary or wildlife corridors.

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Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma, accompanied by North Tura MLA and the Chief Adviser to the Chief Minister, Thomas A Sangma, launched the Statewide Payment.If the forests are not yet registered, the applicant may apply for registration with the forest department and a copy of receipt may be submitted while applying for the PES scheme.Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma, accompanied by North Tura MLA and the Chief Adviser to the Chief Minister, Thomas A Sangma, launched the Statewide Payment for Ecosystem Services (PES) scheme and distributed cheques under the FOCUS programme for the producer groups at SMELC Building here on Monday.

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Launching the scheme, the Chief Minister highlighted the objectives of PES and informed that the scheme is being launched to help the community in protecting the natural environment and to provide assistance to the farmers, stated an official communique.Stating that the response of the people towards PES is positive in the State, the Chief Minister informed that in the last four-and-a-half years, the NPP-led MDA Government had created schemes for the uplift of the farmers in the State.

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He also urged the community leaders to organize volunteers to take care of the natural environment and informed that the Government will be providing financial assistance of Rs 15,000 per hectare under PES for preserving and conserving the environment, for which the Government has earmarked Rs 50 crore per year.

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The PES Scheme is a very laudable initiative. But it will be a mistake to project the principles and rationale behind it as something alien to the indigenous peoples of Meghalaya. This appears to have happened when the guidelines are prepared especially about the permissible and prohibited activities. Consultation with the local indigenous peoples and appreciation of local traditional knowledge should always be considered in the guidelines of any scheme or funding agencies for development initiatives.

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The Scheme instead should be about rewarding the indigenous peoples of Meghalaya for protecting the natural resources for thousands of years and strengthening the landscape management system which made that possible. Erosion of traditional values and entry of market forces has no doubt increased the pressure on the indigenous landscape management system leading to degradation and deterioration of the environment. This Scheme can help in combating that but in its current form will not be able to do that. It might in fact make it worse.