GLOBAL WARMING HITS MANIPUR
Is the state ministry of forests and environment still sleeping under the heat ?
Manipur faces almost all the human problems the world has ever seen. In every sector, the state encounters one or the other crisis. Now the issue of climate change has started to hit the state physically. Besides the manual laborers, the most affected lots due to extreme weather conditions in Manipur are the street vendor women and the school going kids. Imphal city witnesses hundreds of neglected street vendors who have been left without even a shed. The rising temperature adds to the anguish of innumerable number of women vegetable sellers of the city. School going kids are among the worst affected lots due to the extreme weather, as many private schools do not provide properly-ventilated classrooms, comfortable transport system and child-friendly school environment. In the face of the rising temperature, the State Education Department may direct the private schools to relax the rigid school uniforms in favour of casual comfortable dress to suit the hot weather. Instead of formal uniforms, kids may be allowed to wear casual shorts, chapals and T-shirts till the end of August this year. Sufficient clean drinking water be provided in schools, and classrooms may be properly ventilated. Weight of school bags may be reduced to below 10% of the bodyweight of students. Such immediate regulations are highly required for school going kids in response of extreme weather conditions.
Climate change has become a reality in Manipur. But the government seems unmoved amid the changing weather conditions. Deaths due to hot weather have been reported from the neighboring Assam, while the temperature in Manipur reached the highest ever 34.1 Celsius degree during the past few days. The north eastern states, which were once untouched by global warming, have started feeling the effects of climate change. Guwahati, Dribugarh, Itanagar, Aizawl and Imphal cities recorded temperatures as high as around 35 degree Celsius. Normal life has been greatly affected. Flash floods, drought, extreme coldness and other natural calamities may be foretold as the outcome of global warming. It has been a gradual and slow process that the people of north east embrace the global phenomenon of climate change. If left unattended, extreme weather may kill its inhabitants in a few years from today.
Facing the challenges of global warming is not an easy task. Climate change can not be halted overnight. It takes a hundred year to balance the ecology and to be back to nature. It is rather late for the government and the people to focus attention towards saving its environment. Unfortunately, the government seems adamant on global warming issues. The ongoing state legislative assembly may adopt an effective and practical strategy to fight the impending effects of climate change in Manipur. Extra-efforts need to be put on the part of the state Forest and Environment Ministry, which has long been napping amid the increasing extreme heat and coldness.
Forest conservation is the only effective means to save the fast rate of environmental degradation. Forest can help in absorption of the enormous carbon emitted by the industries of the world. According to the State of Forest Report 2003, the forest cover of Manipur is 17,219 Sq. kms. which is 77.12 % of the total geographical area of the State. Although Manipur has sufficient forest area, uninterrupted destruction of the same for one or the other purposes particularly in the hills has invited the phenomenon of climate change. In the valley areas, trees are indiscriminately cut even in forests reserved areas. Recently, an exclusive report appeared in the Hueiyen Lanpao Daily unfolded the felling of trees in Langol forest reserved areas in Imphal. The inactive forests department of the state is obviously responsible for the occurrence of extreme weather in the state. Discussion, interaction, awareness and actions on forestation and tree plantation are very much lacking in Manipur during the past few decades. Tree plantation is only ceremonial in Manipur. As the highest law making body, the state assembly needs to interact on the burning issue of global warming, its short-term and long term strategies to chalk out an effective strategy.