By Shyam Waikhom
IMPHAL, January 2: Around 250-260 hectare of agricultural field of Sekmai and Kanglatombi under Imphal West district have been extremely extirpated following the degradation and distortion of the Imphal River.
The effects of climate change are also visible in the state.
During the past 10 years, the Imphal River has become shallower and more polluted. Due to the unchecked pollution of the river, the water is unsafe even for normal household chores.
Nevertheless, the concern authorities have failed to check the main cause of the pollution.
Sekmai and Kanglatombi locals have in the meantime said that the pollution of the water and the narrowing of the river is due to the drilling/quarrying of sand and stone from the river bed in Sekmai and Kanglatombi.
Sekmai locals estimated that the annual income generation from unauthorised quarrying sand and stone is estimated to be approximately Rs one crore.
Regarding the quarrying of stone, a body ‘Sekmai Protection Committee’ was formed by the locals of Sekmai and imposed a ban on the quarrying from the river bed.
During a conversation, the general secretary of the Committee Dhana Laimayum said that paddy fields at Laikoi Loukon, Khajing Pat Loukon, Chingon Loukon, Song loukon and Fairen Loukon are affected by the degrading structure of Imphal River.
Now these paddy fields are like desert, with the paddy all dried up before ripening, he said.
The mentioned areas were once fertile with even wheat being growing, he said before adding that the only placed in the state which produce wheat are the said fields.
In the past, a family could easily survived by farming, he said.
People of Sekmai now use well-water for household purposes, however, since the river bed has gone lower than the well-dept, the wells remain mostly dried up, he said.
Now, the arable lands have become infertile, and vegetation has been minimal, he said.
He continued that a family had lost four hectors of paddy field after the river changed its course.
Another member of the committee, Anil Kumar said that in the past, Failen
village on the eastern part of the Imphal River opposite to Kanglatombi, now the river’s course is about a km far from the village and has moved nearer to Kanglatombi.
Meanwhile, the people of Kanglatombi and Sekmai are demanding proper demarcation of Kanglatombi and Failen village, as both Kanglatombi and Sekmai are losing land due to the sand and stone extraction from the Imphal River bed.
The people are also seeking the support of the government to stop extraction of sand and stone from the area, he said.
The state forest department had in September 2013 ordered a ban on sand mining and stone quarrying in the central forest division, in accordance with the ban imposed by the National Green Tribunal New Delhi.
According to the order, all activities of mining and quarry of sand and stone under the division are to be stopped and no transit pass will be issue for such activities.
The application of double penalty for the sand and stone mined without mining lease of mahals will cease to be in effect.
Patrolling teams are conducting regular inspection of the mining sites to ensure that no illegal mining are conducted.