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E-Pao! Opinions - Our environment: Time to get green

Our environment: Time to get green
By: Michael Laithangbam / Manipur Mail


It is only next to human relationship that our environment deserves attention. Human environment, which includes both natural and man-made has been the focus of attention for many writers. For instance, Nirad C Chaudhuri, the controversial writer of India, Wrote in his book 'A passage to England' that in our countryman was either a parasite or a victim of the environment. How true was he? It is left to everyone to decide, but one thing is sure that this question is as immensely relevant today as it was then fifty years back, or may be more.

The runaway success of Robinson Crusoe minutes after it hit the stall was only due to the fact that it has got an underlying lesson for us all to learn. After he was shipwrecked and stranded there on an uninhibited island, he set out on a relentless struggle against nature in order to come to terms with it. It was a positive, mutually beneficial one minus the selfish, plundering and greedy instinct of today. Episodes like the Chipko Movement, and the Narmada Bachao Andolan in the country were demonstrative of the sincere, concerned effort on the part of a 'few' people to save the environment from the clutches of 'many'. Today our environment has become a pushover and slave to human greed. Days are past when man and his nature are but friends. Today, it has been much used, misused and abused. Constantly soaring mercury, melting of the polar ice caps, floods and other unconceived drastic changes in the environment are points to ponder. It is commonplace to see during the rainy season that even a marginal fall is enough to open the floodgates of water, which inundate a large area of land and makes life difficult like in the state recently. Although it is out in the open for all to see that the earth is our only home providing sustenance to all, living and non-living, to survive, grow, develop and change, yet many are oblivious of this fact and are therefore their unsavory activities are always on.

It is imperative to say at the very outset that we can further indulge in activities, which are environmentally uncalled for only to our own peril. Jhuming cultivation, for example, in the northeast is unviable environmentally though economically sustainable. Too much zeroing in on industrial, building and construction activities ignoring its fallout has pitiably done irreparable damages to our environment.

Instances are not lacking but they are here near at home. It has been projected that the air in any metropolitan city in India is so harmful that is equivalent to smoking 20 cigarettes a day Garbage generated in Indian cities is about 80,000 tons and they are enough to cover a long distance of 300 km i.e. from Jaipur to Delhi. The numbers of patients with respiratory diseases like asthma, sinusitis and choked throat have doubled since the early 90's. The extinction of the Dodo birds, threats to the Sangai, the Pitcher plant and Rhinoceros are important issues of environment and how far human activities are answerable to for such developments both in the past as well present is a highly debatable question.

The total forest cover of the country has come down histrionically since 1996. It can be mentioned that at one time North Africa was the garden of the Roman Empire. Today, it is a land of dead cities, buried under slit and sand overgrazing, uncontrolled lumbering and poor farming practice destroyed the region's top soil.

Unless the workforce depending heavily on the forests are diverted to other equally profitable activities like social forestry, etc. recurrence of floods, droughts and other calamities for which the country has been at the receiving end of international criticism can never be avoided. A well chalked out strategy is the need of the hour. Playing down the crusaders of environment is unwise, ill-advised and injurious to not only us but the posterity too. Failure on the part of the authorities to rehabilitate the people bundled out because of the Narmada Sardar Sarbvar Projects where high dams are constructed inundating large areas of homeland and cultivated lands is a perfect testimony of government apathy.

But it is not that there is no light at the end of the tunnel. There certainly is, we need some more of the people with green fingers, some initiatives in groups spread the message of environment far and wide, programmes for planting trees, sewage and garbage systems cutting down pollution in any form-air, water and terra firma, by reporting timely the authorities concerned and also on our part like in case of noise pollution emanating from vehicles, music players and others by keeping them at low decibel.

There is not an iota of doubt when one says that we cannot ward something like a meteorite hitting our earth off but many of the present day issues, which are largely man-made, we can definitely do a lot.

Introduction of academic study like 'Man and Environment' in the syllabus is a welcome step and highly called for. Like sex education, environmental study is a long overdue subject. But it has already, made its foray into certain universities like NEHU in Meghalaya. Such a thoughtful and creative innovation in the field of education will go a long way in inculcating to the young minds the whys, hows, whats and where as of our priceless environment, and why not we start thinking about even having a New Year resolution on environment? Let's figure it out together.




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