TODAY -

Imphal River bears brunt of deforestation, pollution
Source: The Sangai Express / Nando Waikhom

Imphal, December 16 2020: Like other households at Pebiya Pandit Leikai, Naoroibam Gyaneshore's family buys water for daily utilities throughout the year.

Even though the locality is situated along the bank of Imphal River in Imphal East district, locals are no longer able to reap the benefits of the river since the past many years due to increasing river water pollution.

Some 25 years ago, the locals could use the water from the river, said 45-year-old Gyaneshore.

The Imphal River was much bigger, deeper and beautiful at that time.

People used water from the river for drinking, cooking, bathing and other daily purposes.

"The voluminous clean water that ran almost throughout the year, directly fed thousands of people residing alongside the Imphal River", he said.

The residents also echoed that the condition of the Imphal River has drastically changed since the past many years.

Recounting his association with the Imphal River, another 67-year-old resident, Waikhom Nageshore maintained that the Imphal River had been closely associated with the lifestyle of the people residing along its banks.

"The Imphal River was a part of life of those who reside along its banks.

People used to take baths in the river.

Men and women fetched water from the river to be used for cooking, drinking and washing clothes.

It was a common sight to see women in numbers going to the river in the morning to fetch water for household use," Nageshore said.

He said Imphal River was so clean at the time that locals used to Consume the water directly without any chemical treatment.

Meanwhile, experts observed that variation in the rainfall pattern, ever increasing level of deforestation and contamination among other reasons as the main causes for the fading identity of Imphal River.

Manipur University Professor (Geography) Dr Kh Prdeepkumar pointed out that the destruction of forest on large scales in hills has led to rainwater from the hills flowing into rivers without much filtration.

He explained that trees and vegetation play a major role in holding rainwater and releasing them in a gradual manner.

Disturbing this natural process as a result of mass deforestation leads to occurrence of flash floods.

As there is not much trees, plants and vegetation to trap and hold the sediment brought down by rain water, the sediment along with other minerals enter the river system and pollute them.

This also leads to fill ing up of the river bed with sediment (siltation) and drying up of the river during non-rainy seasons.

The water holding capac ity of rivers in the State has decreased a lot from the past due to siltation.

Increas ing level of soil erosion in hills and siltation of the river beds is an important factor for rivers becoming shallower.

Elucidating the point, he said that a large amount of soil, particularly clay and silt particles are carried down by the water from deforested areas in hills and deposited in the river beds.

This phenomenon has been taking place on a large scale for many years and as such rivers like the Imphai River are getting shallower, he added.

Not only the people of Pebiya Pandit Leikai, but thou sands along the banks of the Imphai River and many more in the Greater Imphai area are suffering the brunt of defor estation and other human interference which violate the natural ecosystem.

With most of the rivers including Imphai River and Iril River flowing at a very low level during the dry season, water supply schemes are not able to function properly, forcing people to buy drinking water.

Once beautiful and pure, Imphai River is now only a shadow of what it was some 30/40 years back.

This decadence is a result of climate change and deteriorating ecosystem, said an elder of Pebiya Pandit Leikai.

This feature was written under 2nd State Level Media Fellowship on Climate Change Reporting of the Directorate of Environment & Climate Change, Manipur 2020-2021 .


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