By Khuraijam Jibankumar Singh, FLS
Langol is an isolated Hill Range in the northern part of the Imphal Valley. It is the only reserve forest nearest to the Imphal City and serving as carbon sink of the city. Imphal City is now facing ever increasing air pollution due to the increase in large number of vehicles in the last few years. Except for few sacred groves, locally known as Umang Lais located at the periphery of the city, the green forests in the valley had disappeared and converted to agricultural lands. In recent past till 1940s, tigers, leopards and jackals used to roam in the hill range. There are many stories of encounter of tiger, pythons, leopards and jackals however after 1940s all these rare animals were not again to be seen. As the city expands, Langol Hill Range now sees the burden of increasing pressure of urbanisation of the natural resources and landscape. Many villages, institutions and hospitals came up in around the hill range.
Breeding centre of critically endangered Manipur brow antlered deer, Sangai-the state animal of Manipur; Manipur Zoological Garden and Khonghampat Orchidarium were established at the hill range to conserve bioresources of the state. Except for this few acres of land reserved for conservation, entire reserve forests is now exposed to land transformation and are in critical stage.
With the construction of Game Village at the foot hills of the hill range, entire landscape of the south eastern part of the hill range had changed in just one decade and endangering its forest cover due to illegal felling of trees. Lack of environmental concern and love for nature among the people of the inhabitants led to the disappearance of the rich biodiversity of the forests. The people living in and around the hill range are living in a very unhygienic lifestyle endangering their health and environment of the hill range. Even after having government designated dumping site in Lamphel, waste materials including hazardous chemicals are dumped on the road sides which are carried away by rainwater from the hills to the wetland.
This deliberate dumping of waste materials into the wetland has let to disappearance of many flora and fauna. The entire ecosystem of the hill range and the wetland has changed and are in very critical phase. Restoring to previous clean environment will be very difficult and before the things go worst, the people of the city and around the hill range need to rethink and conserve this beautiful forest. Voluntary conservation activities are required with assistance from State Forest Department. State Forest Department need to adopt stringent rules to check the encroachment of the reserve forest. The people of the city and the government authorities had to take responsibility and work together to conserve the hill range and the wetland as the health of the city lies on the clean environment. Conserving Langol Hill Range and Lamphelpat will let to clean and healthy Imphal.