Manipuri : Do we belong to a society that cares for the environment?

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Dr Maibam Dhanaraj Meitei
Manipur, called land of jewel or Switzerland as quoted, but does the titles fit the place that it is in actual? A land locked state of 22,327 km2 by area, with the surrounding hills and a small valley in the middle, endowed with rich flora and fauna, is Manipur. May be a day was there when Manipur actually could be called a jewel land that beholds the eyes and captivates the heart, but is she even today like how it has been described? We, Manipuri’s care and try to protect the land which we call our motherland?

With the progress of the civilization, Mother Nature became a subject of an experimental entity, being subjected to an ever increasing demand accompanied with an ever increasing destruction. Gone are the days when natural resources are once freely accessible to each inhabitants of the globe. Air and sunlight, perhaps are the remaining ones that perhaps will have a price tag someday. It is said, progress of civilization does demand a toll from the human, but the question to be asked comes as, is it quite appropriate the destructive nature of progress that we see today?

Green patches of Earth, which we called forest or jungles are disappearing real quick today. Once a green patch, will be transformed into a concrete jungle of tall skyscrapers or agricultural lands as we humans seem to need it more at the moment. World Environment day is celebrated every year all throughout the world, we plant number of trees to remind the human race that hope is there and we can make it green again if we try. But, do we in real try and care and protect the globe?

February 2nd is celebrated as World wetlands day every year throughout the world, including Manipur. Almost each and every year, Manipur celebrates the day so that one day we may help restore the lone Ramsar site we got, Loktak to its past glory state by the active participation of the locals, Manipuri’s. Rallies are organized, lectures are delivered, numbers of curricular activities are performed to spread the awareness about the degrading or dying wetland. But, as we can recall Loktak entered into the list of Ramsar site in 1990 and in the year 1993, it was further included in another sub-section of the body called, Montreux Records indicating its nature of rapid degradation (ecologically) and the urgent need to take up various protection measures for the prolongation of the life of the dying wetland.
On 2nd February 2017, that is today, Loktak still stays in the Montreaux records list of Ramsar Convention. What does it say? What it implies? What it wants to signify? Isn’t this a question to be asked, why? We, Manipuri’s say, Loktak is a symbol of our pride. Do we belong to a society that wishes to keep its pride signifying symbol in the condition how it is today?

One will say, it is the government to be blamed for the said action, as it becomes their responsibility and they got the power bestowed by the people, for the people. But, in real, do we even once asked ourselves what role we can play before we throw a bucket of garbage into Nambul River at Keishampat junction? Well, we actually don’t.

Do we think and rethink and again think before constructing an open toilet on the bank of tributaries draining into Loktak and the wetland itself? Well, we actually don’t. Do we think before we use tons of fertlizers, pesticides and insecticides in the surrounding agricultural areas of the Loktak catchment and the wetland? Well, we actually don’t. Do we think before we encroached into Loktak by building walls using phoomdi as a temporary pond and reclaim the land in the coming generations as our own? Well, we actually don’t. Do we think before using various harmful chemicals in the aquaculture practice called floating phoomdi fishing inside the Loktak? Well, we actually don’t. Do we think before clearing hectares of hills for terrace farming in the Loktak catchment? Well, we actually don’t. Do we think before encroaching the lone floating national park of the world, the only habitat of the endangered Sangai for building our sweet home? Well, we actually don’t. Do we think before letting numbers of our domestic animals to graze in the park thereby increasing the risk for the transfer of communicable diseases into Sangai? Well, we actually don’t. Do we think before collecting the food plants of Sangai from the park area for our sell in the local bazaars? Well, we actually don’t. Do we think before illegally intruding into the national park and kill the wildlife? Well, we actually don’t.

It seems, we missed to think about our actions, whether it will have an adverse effect on our pride and dignity signifying wetland, called Loktak while pointing the finger to others. Blaming the government in one way may be right if they do not perform their duty as they should, because they have the bigger responsibility then the rest. But, it would be wrong if we stay blind from all the actions we have performed that indirectly and directly in one or the other way only destroys what we love and wish to protect. It is not much a thing to ask ourselves to be a little environmentally aware of what is happening at the moment and what will happen after our actions.

Perhaps, it is time to ask, Do we Manipuris belong to a society that cares for the environment?

Source: The Sangai Express

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