TODAY -

Authorities in denial mode on deforestation
- The People's Chronicle Editorial :: October 18, 2021 -



WITH exception of casual references, if any, on the deteriorating environmental condition, it is obvious that electioneering forthe upcoming state assembly polls would be dominated by lofty promises to improve the socio-economic condition of the underprivileged section of the society and enticing the voters through proclamation of futuristic visions or plans for the state.

As had been the tradition in the past many elections, the upcoming democratic exercise too will see political organisations announcing mouth-watering policies aimed at grabbing public attention and sympathy but almost all the candidates would skip issues related to the increasing ecological balance triggered by random deforestation for logging; activities or poppy plantation, air pollution due to burgeoning numbers of vehicles hitting the roads, widespread useof non-degradable plastic items, waste recklessly dumped into the rivers, to name a few.

While steps are on to put a curb on the pollution-causing motor vehicles and prohibit use of single use plastics, the unusual high temperature being experienced in the state even in the middle of October month indicates that relentless clearance of the forest cover is one of the factors abettingthe global warming phenomenon.

A random glance of the barren Koubru hill range visible from the national highway while passing through Kangpokpi and Senapati districts and central forces periodically seizing truekloads of logs are enough evidences that there has been continuous deforestation activities.

With plantation of poppy in the hill areas gaining notoriety in the past few years it could be conveniently stated that the battle to prevent further degradation of the environmental condition would be an arduous one if not unwinnable.

Moreover, contrary to government agencies claiming regeneration of forest cover in the state, survey conducted by scientists from the University of Maryland finding that the Northeast India lost 5-14 per cent of its tree cover in 2020 to record the biggest dip in the country and Manipur decimated of its 43.1 kilo hectares of humid primary forest or 22 per cent of its total tree cover loss in between year 2002 to 2020 should serve as wake-up call for the department concerned rather than trying to count the saplings planted to mark specific events to justify its existence.

No doubt, the government is not averse to the situation as could be gauged from frequent assurances of providing alternate livelihood to the poppy growers, providing LPG connections to the rural folks, promoting tree plantation projects and a handful of village authorities and hill-based civil societies prohibiting poppy plantations in their respective areas.

However, all these few collaborative efforts are not without obstacles for profit from venturing into food or cash crop farming is not compatible with the monetary gains made out of opium production While location of refilling centres far from the poor villagers reduces possession of LPG cooking appliances to mere decorative items.

Unless stricter measures or actions are initiated, which are unlikely in this election season, there would be no positive turnaround in protecting the forest, as villagers settling within or in the periphery of forests are mostly poor and continue to base their source of livelihood on gathering forest produce, wildlife poaching, collecting fire wood, making charcoal and logging.



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