TODAY -

Fostering Environmental Innovation by Education Department
Observance of World Environment Day in Manipur

Nelson Khundrakpam *

 Tree plantation by Journalists as part of World Environment Day  at Cheiraoching, Thangmeiband :: 5th June 2019
Tree plantation by Journalists as part of World Environment Day at Cheiraoching on 5th June 2019 :: Pix - Shankar Khangembam



While the Government of India has launched 'Selfie With Sapling' initiative regarding World Environment Day 2019, the Department of Education under the keen leadership of Hon'ble Education Minister of Manipur Thokchom Radheshyam in association with the Forest Department and All Manipur Working Journalist Union (AMWJU) is observing the 'World Environment Day' on 5th June 2019 by planting more than 65,000 tree saplings through 1042 private and government schools in Manipur.

It has been reportedly said that there will be a review during the festival of Van Mahotsav in July and another in November this year for the number of surviving saplings. This very initiative of the government under the leadership of Education Minister is worth admirable and praiseworthy. It is quite different from environment minister Prakash Javadekar's 'Selfie with Sapling' in terms of practicability and reliability towards achieving the goal of World Environment Day theme 'Air Pollution.

A selfie with sapling will not ensure the survival of the sapling but for gain of fame in social media. What is important is survival of the sapling with luxuriant growth and becomes a full grown tree. The positive response of the stakeholders is seen from the gesture of school staffs who turn up and collected saplings more than the number allotted for the particular school.

To me, but for my ignorance, no other leader has ever come forward with such a beautiful and practical policy towards nurturing a better solution meant for a global issue at the regional level utilising and mobilizing available local resources.

Let this initiative be the first stride of the government towards spreading awareness on importance of safeguarding environment. We sincerely hope that in the next roll out the government initiate to take such initiative at a larger volume and scaling up to addressing the persistent jhum cultivation with its accompanied forest fire which causes loss of biodiversity at large scale.

In this regard, the exploitation of forest resources up to the hilt for timber and plank at various hill areas of Manipur for human consumption and inundation of forest lands in terms of thousands of hectares in the pretext of developing big dams most of which have remained failed and economically non-viable need to be reviewed and tabled at the highest level.

One sorry and heartbreaking scene we came across was mass felling of trees thousands of trees, on either side of the road to Mapithel Dam through Chadong village and a number of hands driven saw mills operating for every half a kilometre. Interestingly, this deforestation happened due to Left and Right flank of the road was a component of Mapithel dam.

This Mapithel dam alone has engulfed a total land area of 2.972.28 hectares of different categories paddy field, forest, home-stead land and grazing grounds which are either completely submerged or adversely affected.1 It is worth guessing how much of area in hectares must have been engulfed by our 40-50 failed and failing dams in Manipur.

The question to us is how such mega projects can affect the forest lands when the forest lands are safeguarded by forest laws and Acts. The Forest Conservation Act, 1980 (FCA, 1980), regulates the Diversion of forest for non-forest activities which requires prior clearances from the Ministry of Forest & Environment (MoEF). This was enacted to help in conservation of forest and to regulate dereservation of forest.

The FCA, 1980 & Forest Rights (Recognition of Scheduled Tribe & Other Traditional Forest Dwellers on forest) Act, 2006 (FRA, 2006) operate through corresponding rules and guidelines. Section 2 of the FCA, 1980 provides certain guidelines which state Govt. cannot proceed without approval of the Central Govt.

in the activities viz - De-reservation of reserved forest land, Use of forest land for non-forestry purpose and Assignment of forest land through lease or otherwise to any private person or any agency/corporation/organization which is not owned/managed/controlled by the state govt. clearing of trees that have grown naturally in a forest land or portion of it, for the purpose of using it for re-forestation.

It is very clear that we all are responsible for the outcome of destruction of forest lands and we cannot escape the Nature's Wrath as we have been witnessing stealthily in the form of health hazards such as frequent nasal infections and sinusitis; skin allergies and yet others which were not common long time before. All the stake-holders to be involved in this pioneering effort from the side of the Education Minister should support sincerely so that the initiative is moved forward successfully for the benefit of the human kind to a larger extend.

It is my strong believe if we, Manipuri have a habit of imitating and culturing only such well and worthy initiatives taken up by any wilful stake-holders, we could surpass our improvement and progress far beyond other states within a span of few decades. The present Manipur is witnessing a lot of issues in many fields. Yet we have resourceful people and thinkers.

All we need is a gaoler who can harness human potentials and is skilful in harvesting the fruits. The very losing in quality in the education system through unvoiced leaking of questions, making the students community a mark hunger rather than a knowledge hunter, is yet another burning issue which is not deficient of a permanent solution.


* Nelson Khundrakpam wrote this article for The Sangai Express
Nelson Khundrakpam, is Secetary HHG Academy, Ghari and President Helping Hands Group, Imphal; Former staff Centre for Research And Advocacy Manipur, CRAM; Assistant Co-ordinator, Centre For Advocacy and Research, CFAR Imphal Unit; and Best ParaLegal Volunteer, PLV 2014 under Manipur State Legal Services Authority, High Court of Manipur)
and can be reached at Nelsonkhndrkpm70(AT)gmail(DOT)com
This article was webcasted on June 19 2019.



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