Shirui Lily Festival draws to a close amid pomp and gaiety Governor stresses on potential of State flower

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IMPHAL, May 20 : Like Chief Minister N Biren, Governor Dr Najma Heptulla travelled all the way from Imphal to Ukhrul by road to attend the closing function of the Shirui Lily Festival as the chief guest, which drew to a close today amid pomp and gaiety.

Significantly this was the maiden visit of Dr Najma Heptulla to Ukhrul after assuming the charge of Governor of Manipur.

With the people of Tangkhul people rolling out the red carpet for the Governor, Dr Najma Heptulla soaked up the ambience of Ukhrul as well as the air of the festival, on arrival.
Later addressing the gathering at Tangkhul Naga Long ground at Ukhrul, the Governor said that Shirui Lily can be a major attraction for tourists from across the world, if the flower is marketed properly.

Judicious marketing of Shirui Lily as a major tourist attraction can go a long way in creating awareness on the need to protect and nurture the environment, she observed.
Apart from protecting the environment, this will also give a boost to the economic activities of the local people.

Sounding a word of caution, she said that global warming and change in habitat are posing a threat to the survival of the rare flower and added that a sustained awareness campaign is needed to ensure its protection and survival.

The Governor also congratulated the Chief Minister on his initiative to organize the festival at the State level and added that the new State Tourism Festival will give a boost to the promotion of tourism in the State, leading to more footfalls of tourists with Shirui Lily and picturesque Ukhrul providing the added attractions.

Giving a graphic description of Shirui Lily, the Governor said that 3/4 decades back, a single plant of Shirui Lily could bear not less than 12 flowers. However today this has changed drastically and what one sees is 3/4 flowers on a plant.

Earlier it was thought that this was due to the rampant deforestation, but with the growth in science, it has now come to light that this is due to the expanse of the bamboo groves (small variety of bamboo).

A proper scientific study of the flower is the need of the hour, she opined and added that the information that ICAR has decided to research the tissue culture of the flower is encouraging. Such a scientific approach should not only help the flower grow in its environment but it can become a possibility to let the flower grow and bloom in controlled conditions such as in laboratories. The Governor also briefly dwelt on the history of how the flower was discovered by British Frank Kingdon Ward in 1946 and how he named it after his wife.

The Governor also pointed out that deforestation and jhum cultivation have had an adverse impact on the climatic condition at Ukhrul and Shirui with the forest cover at Shirui Kashong (mountain) decreasing rapidly.

This has adversely impacted the water supply to Ukhrul town from Shirui Kashong, she added.

Promoting tourism can go a long way in bettering the economy of the place and the people, said the Governor and added that it is to promote the place and boost tourism that the Central Government has been intimated to ensure direct flight from Imphal to Mumbai and Bangalore.

The Shirui Lily Festival should lead to more efforts to protect and preserve the flower and will also go a long way in promoting the ties between the hill and valley people, the Governor observed.

Expressing her desire that such a festival is observed at all the district headquarters, the Governor expressed hope that she gets the opportunity to visit the place again to interact with the people.

Cultural items were presented as part of the closing ceremony. Speaker, Manipur Legislative Assembly, Y Khemchand, Health Minister L Jayantakumar Singh, IFCD Minister Letpao Haokip and Education Minister Th Radheshyam attended the closing ceremony as president and guests of honour respectively.

Source: The Sangai Express

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