E-Pao! Essays - Slow killing process

Slow Killing Process

By:- Sagolsem Anand *

We cannot deny the fact that water is the central of existence of all forms of life on the Earth and we also cannot imagine a world without water for there is no substitute for Water.

“Save Our planet Mother Earth from Global Warming”, stem warning like sea level is surging up! “Save Our Environment from Air Pollution”, “Water Pollution”, “Stop cutting down plants and trees (Stop Deforestation)” for future generations, “Protect the Coastal Environment” to save the sea environment, “Stop using Air-conditioners, refrigerators, CFC producing electrical appliances and equipments to save Ozone layer from depletion” are some of the global slogans to save the environment of Mother Earth.

And here in our state “Make our Imphal City Clean and Green”, “Save Nambul River and preserve its ecology”, to save Loktak Lake”, Save Sangai (brow-antler deer) and its inhabitant and surrounding ecology, Save Keibul Lamjao National Park”, Protect Siroy Lily and Dzuko Lily from human intrusion and invasion, exploiting its natural habitat, are some of slogans to save the environment of the state of Manipur.

Waste being accumulated in Nambul River

In the meantime, on the other hand the natural process of Mother Nature is continuing her magnificent journey without stopping. It is very complicated to figure out with our frail human understanding the complex uniqueness of Mother Nature’s untold mysteries, her natural calamities brought from time to time, and subsequently, her serene role of safeguarding and creating conducive criterion supporting the existence for living organisms including human existence on Earth.

The apprehension that concerns at this point of time is, “What are the noticeable factors that are responsible for polluting the environment of the Mother Nature at the present moment?” Everybody has answers but no possible solution so far to unravel this problem which is exclusively created by humans and emergence of rapid urbanization and industrialization for development.”

It is obviously true that sometimes exertions on economic development enormously overlook those risky negative impacts and worst consequences it creates. So, we cannot make the conclusion that only development in terms of economy for a nation(s) be termed as true development, while developmental activities fundamentally ignore and violate norms for safeguarding and conservation of Mother Nature.

In fact, Imphal City is a place where tourist(s) or person(s) from other parts of the world visiting the state put his or her first step.

Imagine, what must be their first impression to find the Imphal City in such a real bad-shape and the repulsive image it reflects and about the way of life of the people inhabiting here, besides our pride for holding rich socio-cultural heritage and distinct identity as a Manipuri.

Manipur is a state where we don’t have the taste and experience of “true urban flavour or a true rural flavour”, everything is mingled up we can neither describe it urban nor rural community. Without doubt, they certainly witness Imphal city, one of outstanding society amongst other world community which deliberately practicing the tradition and culture of pollution generator.

The solid evidence of many factors leading to pollution in our urban area like kicking up of dust particles by the fast moving vehicles and wind carrying it during dry and windy seasons from the broken roads and streets. Old motor-bikes, scooters, mopeds, cars and heavy vehicles throwing out poisonous toxic unburned hydrocarbons and burning down of plastic bags which produces carbon-monoxide, a kind of poisonous gas severely detrimental to human health causing even lung cancer and other pulmonary diseases.

The contamination of stagnant river water due to deposition of decaying plants and dead animals which create stinky odour that evolves from the surface of deteriorated Nambul River in the heart of Imphal City and to the travellers along Mayai Lambi road when the river dwindles down to a rivulet is a great nuisance. We also observed that the proliferation of construction of crematorium along the river side which is also one of the main contributing factors for polluting river water.

Let us delve down to our disastrous health implications caused by contamination of environment in our over congested urban area (Imphal City), let us also think of a person suffering from eczema, bronchial diseases, it's simply miserable. Think of the newly born baby and their future in such a worst polluted condition!

The contemporary tradition of the city dwellers throwing and dumping domestic garbage wrapped in plastic bags in broad daylight and during the night time containing non-biodegradable plastic bottles, can, glasses, bags with “who cares the devil cares” attitude, which decorate both the river banks is an eye sore and a real nightmare to think over it. It obviously reveals that the whole society has lost sense of cleanliness.

It is interesting to roam through the history of Nambul River, or formerly known as Yangoi Achouba, it narrates a tale of different story in-spite of the existing one. It was once a good means of transport for valuable merchandise for local people. Domestic agricultural and wild forest produce like various kinds of vegetables and roof materials like weeds, thatch, etc were brought by boats through this river channel from various parts of valley, hills, and lakes including the Loktak Lake.

Varieties of fresh local fishes and the mere mention of their name bring water to our mouth like Pengba, Tharak, Khabak, Ngangou, Ngaroi, Porong, Sareng and several others fishes which I can't recall, & those fresh aquatic vegetable items like Lok-Iei, Pu-Iei, Heikrak, Thangjing, Thambou, Yelli, Yenna, Kambong, Ekai-thibi from Loktak Lake were available everyday in the local market.

Abundant availability of fishes in the track of Nambul River attracts fishermen along the course of the river and it was once a resourceful water body, a sustainable livelihood for several families. By then water was palatable, usable, navigable and used to its fullest potential it could provide to us.

The embankment of the river was exercise annually, protecting from soil erosion, dug the river banks when river water dwindles down for flood mitigation when the next monsoon season arrives with heavy rainwater. By that time people exercised their duties and responsibilities according to their needs and welfare of the society selflessly but now-a-days what had happen to us and the existing state Government’s obligatory responsibility to deliver the welfare of our society?’

Why Nambul River is sick?

  • Unchecked and untreated drainage and sewerage system existing, which open its mouth to the river directly, particularly within the Imphal City area, due to improper and un-planned urbanization.
  • Random throwing and dumping of bio-degradable and non-degradable waste materials from the commercial area (throw out of the market waste) along the river banks by the people dwelling both the river banks.
  • People who bring and throw their households waste during the night time, with “Who Cares, the Devil Cares” attitude.
  • Burning down the heap of waste materials containing plastic bags without acknowledging its disastrous impact on health of the water body.
The most immediate concern and vision envisage for Nambul River
  • to clean up the course of the river immediately to facilitate free flow of clean river water.
  • to improve and preserve water quality and its standards.
  • to inform the importance of water and its threats to water body by educating river-side dwellers for environmental hygiene and cleanliness, and turn the river into a resourceful river once again.
  • to set up a proper and well design drainage and sewerage system through proper urbanization of Imphal City Area.
  • to establish a monitoring body for testing water regularly and maintaining the required tasks properly and in time.
  • to educate and to improve the attitude of the people towards education, to foster and promote the environment of Nambul river and think of a non-polluted Nambul River.
We find within our state, Manipur, there are two major river basins, namely viz., Barak River Basin & Imphal or Manipur River Basin. The Barak River originates from the northern hills and is joined by a number of tributaries such as Maku, Tuivai, Jrang and other small streams and enters the Cachar District of Assam.

The Manipur River has seven major rivers which originates from the surrounding hills of Manipur such as Imphal River or Turel Achouba, Iril, Sekmai, Nambul or Yangoi Achouba, Chakpi, Thoubal and Khuga.

The monsoon water from all nook and corner of Manipur flows into Loktak Lake filling up the lake with filthy and poisonous effluents from rivers that flows through the Imphal city, from the smallest to Nambul the biggest river reaches Loktak.

This has caused alarming water pollution and has devastated all who depends on the water of Loktak and severely threatening their livelihoods and existence who depend on the lake. It could be our failure and defeat if we could not save the live of the Nambul River as live of Nambul River is the live of Loktak Lake, and Loktak Emma is the soul for the native people of Manipur.

So, it is also worthy mentioning that Nambul river passes through Imphal City and Imphal Municipality area dividing its area into almost two equal halves providing the people extremely convenient to throw and dump garbage and making their drains out through it. Thus the river although small in size but plays a major role serving as the main discharging drainage of Khwairamband Keithel area and its surroundings. But the thing is that how to stop using this river as drainage collector in the future?

Yes! Indeed painful to see its (Nambul River) deteriorating condition which deliberately reflects the negligence of its heirs who are supposed to take care. A question is lingering in my mind that who will come and save its ecology and environment. Is the person from America or England or from Delhi or Japan to come here and to save its life?

The ability of the State Government is well acknowledged by everybody, so slow and too weak to be able to formulate a policy quickly as the situation deserves. The thing we can share is the frustration at the slow pace of work and activities for the time being and implementation procedure which we had already witness in the past.

Politicians and persons holding the highest position and status of this land never bothered for the condition of the environment and we still do not see any change in their attitude. That’s why we want to pull their generous attention to this serious matter at stake. I feel that not much could be done until the state’s and country’s political class took keen interest in this direction.

It is a shame that the ruling government is indifferent to such a disaster for all this time that they have not act on this subject so far. So, it’s right time to urge lawmakers to hold a discussion on the subject immediately for a prompt constructive action and bring out a possible solution, legislating an act favourable for this particular and much neglected issue at the earliest for maximum public interest and benefit.

For water, in its various forms, represents one of the truly renewable resources which must be prevented from deterioration in quality in order to ensure a sustainable future. There is an urgent need for development of more efficient monitoring systems, primarily for improving the water quality and safeguarding the resource as well as for understanding water as a resource.

Proper urbanization could be the best option we have for its solution, so we should encourage and welcome Imphal Master Plan for proper designing of urban infrastructures which is going to be taken up by Chief Town Planner (MAHUD) and going to be implemented by PDA (Public Development Authority), Govt. of Manipur so that modern standard urbanization could be initiated and achieved through this much awaited Urban Project, and also thankful to Manipur Pollution Control Board for initiating River water quality monitoring stations near the Wahengbam Leikai Hump Bridge and other near Heirangoithong Bridge.

Hope this is a good start and could bring and deliver their duties well for a bright hope and welfare for the people of this land and its environment.

Let us think what we are giving to ourselves and what we are passing to our future generations. There is no scope for wasting time any more as the life of thousands are at stake. Only understanding of the issues in hand is not enough at this point of time, it is high time to deliver immediate action it deserves from all sections of the society without delay, or it will be too late to act, we don’t have much time to delay in this piece of job.

If we slag behind in saving and safeguarding the Environment of our State (Manipur) at the first hand in this fast globalizing world, to save the world from destruction seems far off, leading our lives worst and miserable than, slave and ultimately we have to perish from the surface of the Earth very soon.

Many unanswered questions desperately awaiting positive answers without procrastination. Procrastination is killing of time.

* Sagolsem Anand wrote this article for The Sangai Express . This article was webcasted on June 08th, 2007

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