UK takes up 200 million pound project for greener economy

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Basanti (Sunderbans), Feb 11 (UNI) The British High Commission to India will pump in 200 million Pounds over the next three years under its DFID project in four states, including West Bengal, for development of greener economy and initiating adaptive measures to the climate change in the region.

The other states to be benefited from the project are Madhya Pradesh, Orissa and Bihar.

British High Commissioner to India Sir Richard Stagg said here, ''We have no option but to move towards greener economy. The UK government has given number one priority to combat Climate Change and promote low carbon, high growth, global economy. As part of the project the UK government will invest Pounds 200 million over the next three years with the project taking off in April next year.'' ''While overall costs and risks of climate change will be equivalent to losing at least five per cent of global GDP each year now and forever, if a wider range of risks and impacts is taken into account, the estimated costs of damage could rise to a staggering 20 percent GDP. In sharp contrast the costs of tackling climate change can be limited to around one per cent of the global GDP each year,'' he said.

''We must understand that 60 per cent of India is still based on agriculture. And a lot is needed to be done. We are very happy at the way Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is looking at the problem. He is concerned and wants to improve on the efforts to promote a green economy, which will involve changing industrial processes,'' he said.

''Our role as a foreign government is limited. But we want to take part in the change process and hence the project will concentrate on climate change, healthcare and education. We can educate the people living in the remote 25 to 30,000 villages in India the use of Jatropha and how it can be used to generate electricity,'' he said.

The Foreign Office has further invested USD 60,000 in Sunderbans for Mangrove plantation along the embankments to prevent erosion and infiltration of saline water, in a project undertaken by Nature, Environment and Wildlife Society (NEWS), an NGO working from Kolkata.

Talking about the project, Sir Stagg said, ''It is painful to reconcile to the fact that people in the Sunderbans, who contribute nothing to the global warming, may have to face the brunt of any natural disaster in this region.'' ''I was shocked to learn that of the 3,500 km of shoreline in the Sunderbans, more than 2,000 km are today without the necessary mangrove cover. It is essential that an eco-system like Sunderbans has a defense system in place,'' he said.

''Hence the British Government has used the money from its Global Opportunities Fund through its Foreign Office to promote this project like all other high growth and low carbon economy projects we patronize,'' he added.

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