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Punjab is located in the North Western region of India and is bounded on the West by Pakistan, on the North by the state of Jammu & Kashmir, on the North East by Himachal Pradesh and on the South by Haryana and Rajasthan.

The state is subdivided into three parts namely Malwa, Majha and Doaba. Malwa region covers major part of the state and comprises of cities like Ludhiana, Patiala, Sangrur, Bathinda and Mohali. The main districts of the Majha region include Amritsar, Gurdaspur and Tarn Taran. Doaba is one of the most fertile regions in the state and was the centre of the Green Revolution in India. This region includes the cities such as Jalandhar, Kapurthala, Hoshiarpur, Nawanshahr and Phagwara.

The state is an exquisite land with lush green fields, has monuments and religious sites of historic significance, and enchanting scenic areas of natural beauty particularly in Shivaliks.  As of 2011, Punjab has 22 districts and a population of 27.7 million. More than 62% of the population lives in rural areas.  Though the share of agriculture in the total GDP of the state is lowest (23.5% in 2010-11), the state remains predominantly agrarian. The current challenges with respect to climate change in Punjab are as under:

 

Water and agriculture: Punjab has been the top food producer in the country for a very long time. In order to maximize grain productivity vast areas have been put under intensified rice and wheat cropping system. These have become synonymous with excess use of chemical fertilizers, over extraction of ground water, and burning of crop residue to quickly get the field cleared for the next seasonal crop. However, over a period of time, these practices have caused soil and water degradation leading to saturation in agricultural productivity and hence drop in agricultural incomes. Further indigenous biodiversity of crops that are climate resilient are less and less being grown.

The government is striving to overcome these challenges by putting in place various policies and acts. For example it is successfully implementing the Punjab Preservation of Subsoil Water Act, 2009, that encourages paddy planting in consonance with onset of monsoon thus avoiding extraction of ground water if planted earlier.

Forests: To extend area under forests as per the draft Forest policy is a challenge for the state because of limited land availability.  It is trying to reach the target by planting more and more trees outside the forests. As a result the total tree cover in the state has increased by 100 square km between the period 2007 and 2009. However, there are indications of increase in open forest cover, reflecting that the forests are degrading. High levels of disturbance index in the Shivaliks hills have been noted through assessments carried out in 2001 and 2008 indicating fragmentation of forests.

Ecosystem and Biodiversity: Biodiversity of forest species, crops and that of wetlands in the state are threatened largely by pressures of development. Many species of flora and fauna within and outside forests in Punjab are in different threat categories as per IUCN or are lost. Punjab is also facing some kind of natural threat leading to reduction in distribution and spread of its state tree – Dalbergia sissoo (Tahli). Besides the pressures of development, the other drivers include invasion of exotic species such as Lantana and neglect of native forest species due to extensive plantation of poplar and Eucalyptus, grazing pressures, forest fires and over exploitation of forest resources. Wetland biodiversity are threatened by over diversion of water, pollution, encroachment, invasion of exotic weeds, soil erosion and wetland reclamation and due to silting and sedimentation.

Establishment of Protected Area (PA) Networks, Wildlife Sanctuaries and Community Reserves, Biodiversity Management Committees (BMCs) and Technical Supporting Groups (TSGs), preparation of People Biodiversity Register, Declaration of biodiversity heritage sites, Crop diversification activities, Soil and Water Conservation, and Wetland Conservation are some of the ongoing activities of the state that are towards addressing the mentioned challenges.

Urban Habitats: Urban Habitats are essentially a function of the people living in them and the facilities built to sustain the same through appropriate urban planning. The planning is made in such a way so as not to degrade the environment and to withstand the vagaries of climate. The urban population in Punjab is concentrated in its 4 main cities, namely in Ludhiana, Amritsar, Patiala and Jalandhar, with high rates of rural –urban migration.  City amenities though being upgraded continuously,  are not adequate vis a vis housing, waste disposal, water supply and sanitation coverage especially in the slums and peri urban areas. Poor water and air quality is prevalent due to industrial activities. Further, the roads and parking spaces are not enough for the ever increasing passenger vehicles .

Energy: The gap in energy supply and demand has been brought down significantly as the Transmission and distribution losses of electricity have gone down from 30.82% during 1999-2000 to 20.12% during 2010-11. However,  increasing  energy demand and inefficient energy use in industries especially in SMEs and for pumping water in the agriculture sector are some of the causes that continue to create deficit of electricity especially during peak demand periods. The CEA estimates indicate that the deficits in peak electricity demand in Punjab can be as high as 14%.

Energy conservation, improvement in energy efficiency and impetus to renewable energy development are some of the policies being promoted by the government. This addresses energy deficit concerns having a co-benefit of mitigating GHG emissions due to generation of electricity from conventional energy.