Can we talk climate change in Manipur? Is it relevant yet? Or are we still too bothered about our geographical boundaries? It is rather mind boggling to think that our priorities are confined to – this is my land and that is your land.
We have consistently failed to see the bigger picture and address is what should be the most important topic. We are within one geographical realm and we should start working together towards understanding our natural environment. Climate change is real and we owe it to ourselves and to our future generation so let us start getting serious about it.
Look at Bhutan. This Himalayan kingdom’s forests absorb three times more CO2 emissions than its population creates, helping to make it the world’s most ‘carbon negative’ country. Can we aspire to something like this? It on my bucket list to travel there one day and see for
myself what are they doing? How do they get it so right?
So I was in Manipur for two months on my last visit. During my stay, I organized Sadar Hills Half Marathon to spread environmental awareness and visited many classrooms talking to the students about what it is like to be environmentally friendly. Some of the schools in Kanggui are taking initiatives to raise awareness and I am so proud of them. Beyond these schools there are few individuals and voluntary groups working on the issue. However, these groups represent just a tiny fraction of the local population. The rest are still unaware of they
just don’t care. Sad I thought.
Anyway, I made some observations as I always do. Here are a few things I observed. People are cutting down trees like there is no tomorrow. There are lots of people mainly boys hunting down the wild birds in the forest as part of their leisure activity. We have one of
the worst roads in the world, (Potholes & Dust) which led to lots of unnecessary dust that is harmful to us. There are excessive mining of sand and stone from the rivers. Our rivers and streams are being used as garbage pits for domestic and commercial waste. Also the
ever-increasing amount of cars, trucks, buses, bikes and many others that are running on our roads polluting the air with their harmful fumes.
Shouldn’t we be talking about this? Well we all hold the government responsible as if they have just turn up from somewhere to look into matters that is important. I don’t want to even go into how much the government has failed us. I think if we want change, we start within us first. When its time to elect our representatives, we succumb to the power of money, then we have to pick up the pieces ourselves and we often don’t even bother.
The last few weeks, Manipur experienced a rather unusual downpour, which led to flooding and in some areas landslides. Now, what went wrong? Who is responsible? Someone in the village must have sin; someone somewhere must have done something wrong. These sorts of reactions are somewhat primitive and we should be beyond that.
The responsibilities of addressing the issue of climate change lies on our government and us as individuals. Charities and businesses must start acting on it and create a sustainable solution. Our human activities are the main cause of global warming and the natural
disasters. The economy of Manipur sadly is one of the biggest factors, which drives our activities around the forest and rivers. I have seen it with my own eyes and spoke to local farmers. Unless we give them an alternative, they will carry on cutting trees, burning forest and mining sands and stones. It has to be a collective effort. It is time we start talking genuinely about being co-operative and universality. If we continue our little fights for boundaries while ignoring the damages we are doing, we will have no land to fight for. The
mountains, the forest, the hills, the animals, the rivers will only sustain us if we look after them.
This might be a classroom material for some but in case some of us are still unaware, deforestation is one of the main causes of landslides and flooding. This is due to the fact that as there are no forest trees left to hold the soil and rainwater. Therefore with a few days of rainfall, our towns and cities gets flooded and the disastrous landslides. I don’t think I need to spell out the negative effects of flooding and landslides. Some of us have seen it first hand and the rest of us have heard about it.
Manipur is no stranger to the consequences climate change. In many parts of Manipur we have no safe running water. People’s health is affected due the ever-increasing air pollution and life expectancy has gone down to an alarming state. Each year farmers are experiencing
decrease in agriculture production. Rice is our staple food and we cannot even produce enough rice for ourselves. On my recent trip to Israel I was amazed to see how efficient they are and how much they produce. The size of Israel is 20,770 km² and huge part of it is
desert and very dry. Israel produces enough for them and they export their fruits and vegetables to the rest of the world. Manipur on the other hand is 22,327 km² with good climatic conditions very much favourable for farming and agriculture activities. However, we depend of the rest of India for so many of our day-to-day needs. I know Israel is a rich nation and we are just a small state and yes some of you might find this rather unfair. We cannot compete with Israel but we can aspire to their standards.
I am writing this as a concern individual who still believes that it is not too late. I am positive that our new government will take the much-needed initiative and raise environmental awareness so that we can all do our parts as individuals. While we confidently wait for
them to kick-start the movement, I like to encourage all of us to limit our activities that are harming our environment and start planting more TREES.
So next time when I got to Manipur I don’t want to spend half of my time coughing with sore throat. I look forward to the days when we have a bump free, pothole free highway, the hills and the mountains covered with trees, as they should be and good amount of water in our
rivers. Lets restore our nature before its too late. We owe it to no one but ourselves.
PS. I am running an Environmental project in Kanggui so if you want to know more about it or take part by planting some trees with us please let me know. My email is [email protected] Join me on Facebook too.
The article was submitted by Lien Gangte, who is the Founder & UK Coordinator
of Kanggui Hope.