HomePoliticsUPSC Checklist: MISHTI, the new government initiative

UPSC Checklist: MISHTI, the new government initiative

What exactly is the MISHTI plan, which was just unveiled in the Union Budget 2023? Let us learn more about the plan and its significance via case studies for UPSC CSE.


Subject/Topic: Government schemes

Relevance: New government programmes and policies introduced in the Union Budget are significant for Prelims, Mains, and Personality Test, both directly and indirectly. Important UPSC questions may include analysis and background information in addition to facts. This plan centers around the much-discussed Mangroves.

Why is this in the news?

— Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman introduced a new MISHTI plan in the Union Budget 2023-24, which was unveiled on Wednesday (February 1).


What exactly is the MISHTI scheme?

“Building on India’s success in afforestation, ‘Mangrove Initiative for Shoreline Habitats & Tangible Incomes’, MISHTI, will be taken up for mangrove plantation along the coastline and on salt pan lands, wherever feasible, through convergence between MGNREGS, CAMPA Fund and other sources.”

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman during her Budget speech 2023

Why Mangroves?

For years, environmentalists have focused on mangroves, and their relevance in the global climate context cannot be overstated. Mangrove forests, which are made up of trees and shrubs that survive in intertidal water in coastal locations, are home to a variety of marine species. They also maintain a diverse food web, with mollusks and algae-filled substrate serving as a breeding ground for tiny fish, mud crabs, and shrimp, giving a source of income for local artisanal fisherman.

They also serve as excellent carbon sinks, storing up to four times the amount of carbon as other wooded ecosystems. Mangrove forests absorb large amounts of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, and their maintenance can both help in the removal of carbon from the atmosphere and prevent its release if they are destroyed.

Mangrove Forests in the Sundarbans, West Bengal

What is Mangrove Alliance for Climate (MAC)?

The Mangrove Alliance for Climate (MAC) was founded at the 27th session of the Conference of Parties (COP27), this year’s UN climate summit, with India as a partner. In keeping with India’s objective of increasing its carbon sink, New Delhi will work with Sri Lanka, Indonesia, and other countries to protect and restore the region’s mangrove forests.

Union Minister for Environment, Forests, and Climate Change Bhupender Yadav said at the event in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, that India is home to one of the world’s largest remaining areas of mangroves — the Sundarbans — and has years of expertise in mangrove restoration that can be used to aid global measures in this direction.

The Mangrove Alliance for Climate (MAC), headed by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Indonesia, includes India, Sri Lanka, Australia, Japan, and Spain. It aims to educate and raise awareness about the significance of mangroves in reducing global warming and their potential as a climate change solution across the world.

However, because the inter-governmental alliance is run on a volunteer basis, there are no genuine checks and balances in place to hold members accountable. Instead, the parties will set their own dates and obligations for planting and rehabilitating mangroves. Members will also exchange knowledge and work together to investigate, manage, and protect coastal regions.

Current State of Mangroves

  • South Asia has some of the most extensive mangrove regions in the world, with Indonesia accounting for one-fifth of the total.
  • India is home to around 3% of South Asia’s mangrove population. Aside from the Sundarbans in West Bengal, the Andamans, Kachchh, and Jamnagar districts in Gujarat all contain significant mangrove cover.
  • However, infrastructure initiatives such as industrial growth and road and railway construction, as well as natural processes like as changing coastlines, coastal erosion, and storms, have resulted in a dramatic decline in mangrove ecosystems.
  • According to the Global Mangrove Alliance’s 2022 study, over 600 square kilometers of mangroves were lost between 2010 and 2020, with direct human influences accounting for more than 62% of the loss.

Case Study 1

With the cooperation of the local community, Apple has given a grant to help maintain and restore Raigad mangroves.

A 2,400-hectare mangrove environment in Maharashtra’s Raigad district will be one of Apple’s priority regions as it strives to assist people throughout the world who have been disproportionately impacted by climate change. The Applied Environmental Research Foundation (AERF) will work with the local community to maintain the mangrove forest, which serves as a vital buffer against climate change, thanks to a donation from the tech giant.

According to a press release, as part of the relationship, AERF will sign conservation agreements with local community members and assist them in exchange for conserving and safeguarding the mangroves on their land. The partnership’s purpose, which will attempt to be self-sustaining, is to assist in transitioning the local economy to one that relies on preserving mangroves intact and healthy.

Apple’s donation will also help restore mangroves in a 50-hectare region that has been deteriorated. It will also buy and distribute portable bio-stoves, which will allow families to cook without destroying mangroves for fuel.

AERF will also work with Conservation International to validate the climatic advantages of mangroves, taking into consideration the carbon trapped in both the trees and the soil. Mangroves operate as “carbon sinks,” absorbing carbon dioxide from the sky and storing it in their soil, plants, and other sediments, in addition to safeguarding coastal populations from climate impacts like as erratic monsoons and increasing seas like in Raigad.

AERF head Dr Archana Godbole termed the relationship a fantastic chance to examine “how mangrove conservation and community benefits may go hand in hand”. “Though mangrove conservation concerns are various and vary in each region, here in our project area, opportunities are also many. Training our youthful, motivated workforce as well as local populations for blue carbon would undoubtedly help us go a long way toward achieving mangrove protection in this lively coastal area along the Arabian Sea”.

Conservation International’s blue carbon financing project in Cispatá Bay, Colombia, which was financed by Apple, was the first in the world to fully and correctly quantify not just the carbon stored in mangrove trees’ trunks and leaves, but also the carbon sequestered in their soil. The lessons learned from this initiative will be applied to AERF’s work in Raigad, and then scaled across India.

Case Study 2

Innovative steps towards the preservation of Mangroves

  • The sensitive ecology of mangrove forests in India is being harmed by growing industrialisation and climate change.
  • Susanta Nanda, an Indian Forest Services officer shared a video of the fishbone channel plantation method being implemented in Odisha’s Bhitarkanika wetlands.
  • According to the Gujarat Forest Department, the fishbone channel plantation technique is used to artificially inundate areas that do not get regular tidal inundation.
  • By flooding dried-up wetlands near the intertidal zones, new mangroves can be reforested.
  • A report published in the International Journal of Environmental Studies says that the fishbone channel plantation technique helped revive the mangrove cover in the Krishna Wildlife Sanctuary in Andhra Pradesh.

Case Study 3

The necessity to preserve Mangroves: Ranjit Lal

  • They stick it out at the muddy edges of the coast, absorbing the corrosive action of salt water (which can peel the skin off your body if you’re immersed for too long), filtering mud and sediment, and putting away more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere into “long term storage” than any of the world’s forests.
  • NASA has called them “the best carbon scrubbers”.
  • We diss them: mangrove forests are difficult places to explore, what with their glutinous mud, spiky foliage and root systems and the ever-changing water levels (depending on the tides).
  • They have sophisticated salt-filtering systems that can remove excess salt from the water and which we could potentially adapt for desalinisation plants.
  • They filter out heavy metals from the mud and deposit rich sediments.
  • Their greatest recent accomplishment was the taming of the Boxing Day tsunami in 2004 which killed so many people on unprotected coastlines.
  • For us, mangrove swamps and mangrove forests may seem inhospitable, but for around 174 species of marine mega fauna, they’re home.
  • They provide a secure dwelling for oysters, algae, barnacles, sponges, shrimps and mud oysters.
  • Mangrove forests grow in warm tropical and subtropical tidal areas like estuaries and marine coastlines.
  • According to one report, the total area in India under mangroves is 4,921 sq.
  • km, a little over three per cent of the world total.
  • Our largest and most famous mangrove forest is, of course, the Sundarbans (literally meaning beautiful forest), spanning both India and Bangladesh, and which has been declared a World Heritage site and a Biosphere Reserve by Unesco.
  • It is the largest delta clothed in mangrove forests and vast saline mudflats in the world.
  • It is home to the fiercest and the largest number of Royal Bengal tigers in the world.
  • The Sundarbans is also a haven for birds (over 250 species), reptiles, and fish (120 species) and its beehives have tempted honey gatherers to risk their lives.
  • Our second-largest mangrove habitat is Bhitarkanika on the Odisha coast, an important Ramsar wetland featuring saltwater crocodiles and the largest-known nesting area for Olive Ridley sea turtles.
  • On our western coast, even maddening Mumbai has its mangroves, protecting it from tidal surges and some of these have been put on death row.
  • According to one report, between 1972 and 1975 over 200 km of the Maharashtra coast was covered with mangroves, and by 2001, there was just 118 km left.

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