Dr Maibam Dhanaraj Meitei
Today, the environment we are living with is not how it used to be few hundred years back. Man advanced in various fields, leading to a more prosperous civilization which is better than the previous one. From a cave dweller to a gatherer or to a farmer, we have evolved in this many a years. But, with the advance of the society, man evolved and modified its surrounding for its better use and better living mounting an extra burden on the environment where he lives. More the advance the society it got, more the compromise the environment and the other creatures apart of human have to make. It is the day of 2018 where we are now, where the compromise has to be made by the one who is inferior to the mighty or the mightiest.
Manipur, a land lock state of India, too have seen the ongoing process of compromise nature have to bear on the hand of man. Nature cannot talk like us; neither can she sit in protest demanding the apprehension of the culprits that cuts millions of hectares of her face (trees) everyday. Article 21 of the Indian constitution, one of the largest democracies in the world gives its citizens the RIGHT TO LIFE, which says “no person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to procedure established by law”. It imparts the citizens of India, a meaning of life. But, is the right meaningful if the one citizen lives in an environment that is not fit for him or her to survive or breathe on. Life is protected; yes it should be the first and foremost priority, but, what about the environment where the life have to endure?
One or the other way, we cannot say today, we don’t contribute to the degradation of our environment in various ways. Let alone the big hazardous companies producing millions of tons of toxic waste everyday and dumping into the environment, we the citizens of our nation are as much as guilty as someone on the other end of the line. We talk about various rights we are endowed with by the constitution of India, say the right to equality (article 14), the right against discrimination on grounds or religion, race, caste, sex or place or birth (article 15), the right regarding freedom of speech (article 19) etc. We fight, if the one in power manipulates in one or the other way to its functioning and tries to harm the rights and freedom we got.
However, often we forget about the article 51A of the Indian Constitution, the FUNDAMENTAL DUTIES. As one of the fundamental duties, “it shall be the duty of every citizen of India to protect and improve the natural environment including forests, lakes, rivers and wild life, and to have compassion for living creatures”. It seems, we often miss out the duties part when we read the constitution, while concentrating on what should be given to us.
Today, we live in a degrading environment, and degraded by whom? We the humans only. Our actions have its own consequences that in the long run will only hampers the rights we are given with. Celebrations are done every year without a gap whether it is the ENVIRONMENT DAY or WETLANDS DAY or WILD LIFE WEEK or FOREST DAY or BIRD DAY and many more. But, are all these worth without each and every citizen coming to the sense that it is the responsibility of everyone to help each other and land a helping hand to protect the environment?
Perhaps, it is time to ask how is the environmental scenario of Loktak lake? How is the wetland coping up with the extreme environmental pressure it is given by human? How is the Shiroi lily of Ukhrul surviving in this day of changing climate pattern? Where is the remaining population of our state bird, Nongin? Have we done anything that we are capable of to safeguard the state bird? What is the status of Nambul river today in the first week of this new year, 2018? Was the colour of Nambul river black like it is today, few hundred years back? Why the Imphal valley suffers from frequent flash floods every now and then? Is the flashfloods normal and happened since we have started our civilization? Why the roads of the hill tracts suffer from frequent landslides whenever it rains? Where are the wild animals of Manipur that roamed in the valley and the hills years back, but not that long ago? How is the status of the so many small wetlands like Ikop pat, Utra pat and many others today? Are the migratory fish species of Chindwin river even migrating along the Imphal river?
Many more are left to be made better than how it is now. It is on us, whether we act or let it go. It is on man, the responsibility of the environment rest on. As important as it is to protect the right of man, one cannot neglect the importance of protecting the surrounding where one lives and breathe. So, it comes to us, to ask ourselves, am I doing the duties I am supposed to and performing my responsibilities with dignity?
The article was originally published in The Sangai Express.