|Friday, September 1, 2023|
Press Release No. 138/23
DISTRIBUTION OF PES CHEQUE TO 103 COMMUNITIES IN WEST GARO HILLS DISTRICT
Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma on September 1st distributed cheques for the 2nd installment of Payment for Ecosystem Services (PES) to the communities for restoration of the Ganol catchment at SMELC, Dakopgre, Tura. The cheques worth Rs.64.82 lakhs were distributed to 18 Village PES Committees (VPCs) in the presence of West Garo Hills Deputy Commissioner, Jagdish Chelani, IAS, Superintendent of Police, Abraham T Sangma, 2 MLP Battalion Commandant Stephan Rynjah, Retd, IFS, Dr S. Ashutosh and Deputy Project Director, MBMA, CLLMP, James Kharkongor. The amount will in turn be disbursed to 103 community members (familiea) through the VPCs.
The Cheques were the 2nd installment for payment for the ongoing restoration of the Ganol river catchment area.  This venture is the states pilot project for restoration of the Ganol catchment area using the PES approach and was launched by the Chief Minister on April 2nd, 2022. Apart from the eco system improvement, one of the primary objective of the pilot project is to restore catchment areas of Ganol river by involving communities through PES schemes. The category of activities undertaken by the pilot project are sustainable management of community forests, reforestation, afforestation, soil and water conservation and transition from jhum to improved agriculture.
The Chief Minister accompanied by other dignitaries also released a book on Measurement, Reporting and Verification (MRV) Protocol authored by Dr. S Ashutosh during the programme. The protocol outlines methods for assessing improvement in the ecosystems in a cyclic period of time and also ensures performance based payments to the community members in subsequent installments.
Addressing the gathering Chief Minister Conrad Sangma stated that the project is an ambitious venture of the present Meghalaya government and that it may be the first ever such scheme in the entire Nation to be first implemented.
He informed that initially communities were hesitant to take up PES but as people witnessed changes after the projects implementation they started embracing the project. Communities who owned large reserves have shown their keenness to join the project and last year alone 27,000 hacters were included in the project and 21 crores were distributed to different communities for eco restoration purposes he stated. The Chief Minister said that the government is targeting to distribute 59 crores in the future and if the response is overwhelmingly good the targeted amount will be increased. It is learnt that owing to the feasibility of the project other states have expressed eagerness to implement similar ventures the Chief Minister informed. During the course of his address the Chief Minister took the opportunity to humbly thank the communities involved in the venture stating that without their participation this project would not have become successful. The government can aid financially but only the community can make the implementation of the scheme successful he added.
Delving on the ancient practice of preserving sacred forests and forest reserves by the communities of the state Sangma said that since the communities in Meghalaya practiced forest conservation since time immemorial without any government aid they are the true architects of the project he said. Through this project the government aims at addressing various ecological issues directly linked to livelihood generation and by doing so hopes to up lift the standard of living in the state the Chief Minister later stated.