Saving Nambul: Convergence of divergent views

Rajendra Kshetri *

Nambul River in July 2016
Nambul River in July 2016 :: Pix - TSE

Nambul in the News:

Nambul Is In The News. The river that flows through the Imphal Valley, the river that is the face of Imphal city and of course the very river that we, the Imphalites, all see everyday but didn't notice, is in the news. For all the wrong reasons though. The river is in the news not because it has been cleaned and is clean. Not because it has been accorded a 'heritage' tag by the UNESCO.

Not because a National/State Project by the name of "Project Nambul" (a la PROJECT TIGER) has been launched. Not because the river has found an entry in the Guinness Book of World Record (or Limca Book of Records) as the most polluted river on planet Earth. And certainly not because it shall be given the status of a 'living entity'.

Yes! Nambul Is In The News for no other reason than the simplest plain and highly visible fact that it is the dirtiest and most polluted river in the state of Manipur. Perhaps in the country. It is not as though this extremely dangerous level of pollution have taken place overnight. The pollutants, both biodegradable and non-biodegradable, have been accumulating over the years/decades.

We have been seeing it, saw it and see it every seconds of the three sixty five days. Rather than taking note of the increasing degree of pollution and expressing concern, people kept/keep on throwing wastes/trash without any sense of guilt, responsibility and civic sense. Nambul river has been taken for granted by the people and the State as well. The State has failed to protect the environmental needs of the river.

The people have failed to discharge their duties/responsibilities as responsible citizens. We all, as free citizens of a free Country, wanted/want to enjoy/get "rights" as enshrined in the Constitution. Too often we flared up and took to the streets if and when certain rights are denied to us. Quite understandably so. Do we, however, perform/discharge our duties/responsibilities towards the State/society? Do we act/behave in a responsible manner as expected of/from concerned/responsible citizens? Are we 'subjects' or 'citizens'?

Why do we always have this (unhealthy) tendency of blaming the state for anything and everything, right or wrong? Especially when we do not want and failed to discharge/perform our duties/responsibilities. 'Rights' without 'responsibilities' is akin to (read meaningless) throwing stones at the glass house forgetting that we too live in the glass houses. This will reduce any issue into a 'blame-game' game which serves no purpose to/for anyone.

Saving Nambul: Divergent Views

It is through this prism that the whole issue of protecting Nambul river or for that matter any other river, from further degradation/pollution, needs to be addressed. As is apparent (from a few write-ups, statements/action plans from the ruling dispensation and a couple of Editorials on Nambul), two lines of thinking could be discerned vis-à-vis the pollution of Nambul.

The first puts the blame on the People, particularly the residents on both flanks of the river who kept/keep on throwing wastes/kitchen scraps/garbage, biodegradable and non-biodegradable trash in the river in so irresponsible a manner without any sense of guilt and conscience. A sizeable number of households even resorted to throwing the kitchen scraps from the window.

Add to that the common sight of shopkeepers, chicken/meat vendors in the town throwing their wastes/trash from the bridges (not excluding a few well-dressed-civic-sensed looking people carrying the garbage in their four-wheelers and dumping them in the river). Such highly deplorable and un-civic practices on the part of these people must have prompted; I am pretty sure, those strong but timely statements/sentiments from the Executive Head of the State, Shri Nongthombam Biren Singh (Sangai Express, Feb.2, 2018; Poknapham, Feb.2, 2018).

The honourable CM have even gone on record to taking up punitive actions against the garbage throwers. The same/similar idea(s) were suggested/expressed by yours truly in two of his articles published in the English edition of Sangai Express ("Wanted: Manipur River Protection Force", April 13, 2017 and "Saving Nambul: Need of the Hour", Feb.7, 2018).

The second view, so to say, squarely blames the government for the ever-increasing pollution of Nambul. The main argument associated with this view, as evident from and reflected in a Letter to the Editor (of Sangai Express, English, dated Feb.7, 2018), is that when the state-owned civic body (read Imphal Municipal Corporation) have failed to perform/discharge its assigned duties in terms of collecting garbage and trash and disposing them off, why point the accusing fingers at the people (tax-payers).

The Imphal Municipal Corporation (IMC), ill-equipped as it is, in terms of infrastructure, manpower, vehicles etc., is ill-prepared (or is it 'unwilling'?) to collect/clean the garbage that in turn led/leads the people to throw them in the river. This line of argument /thinking is not entirely wrong and quite understandable but only upto a certain point.

Just because the civic body/authority doesn't collect and clean the garbage does not/should not mean that people have every right and could resort to throwing piles of garbage in the river. This is nothing short of righting a wrong by another wrong. But two wrongs do not/cannot make a thing right. This is where the question of 'morality', 'ethics', 'civic sense' and 'social values' come in the picture.

Convergence of Divergence:

Divergent views, as they are, but not contradictory to one another. Both are complementary, and if not, should be made so if Nambul is to be saved/protected from further degradation. What is urgently required/needed is the convergence of divergent views (a point underlined by the Editorials of both English and Manipuri editions of Sangai Express, Feb.8, 2018) for and in the larger interest of saving Nambul and other rivers flowing through the Imphal valley.

A two-pronged strategy could/should be adopted for the purpose – 'short term' and 'long term' strategies. Suggestive ideas/opinions/grievances as contained in the two schools of thought mentioned above, including that of the honourable Chief Minister's 'statements' pertain to short term strategy.

In fact, all the 'cleaning drives' and 'campaigns', 'one-off' small time projects that we all have witnessed/heard over the years are all short term measures. What is most unfortunate is the all-too-familiar stories/instances of how most of them are half-hearted, half-executed, half-finished and thus failed to serve the real purpose for which they were sanctioned/launched.

Need for a Long-Term Policy:

Be that as it may, any kind of short term measure is and should serve as a precursor to the long term strategy/policy. A long term strategy involves formulating a comprehensive, composite, integrated and holistic policy taking into account the history (of the river's origin), catchment areas, settlement pattern of the urban dwellers along the river banks, structure of urban town planning, solid-waste management system, proper sewerage system (what happened to the decade old French sponsored Imphal Sewerage Project???) and most importantly the socio-cultural life of the people on both sides of the river banks.

This is where the state of Manipur is terribly found wanting. Successive state governments have shown only lackadaisical attitudes towards formulating a long-term plan Policy for protection, preservation and conservation of Manipur rivers and their riverine eco-system. There is therefore, an urgent need today to initiate/formulate a MANIPUR RIVER POLICY given the pathetic, highly polluted filthy state of rivers, particularly Nambul, in the Imphal valley.

Rivers are the life-lines of people and cradle of civilization. Such a comprehensive long term policy will definitely go a long way in saving Nambul and other rivers from further pollution and degradation, if not completely restoring them to their pristine pure forms.

Why Nambul: All the rivers flowing through the valley are equally important and should be treated so. So why Nambul in the first place and/or of all the rivers??

Nambul has the unique distinction of being the one and only river in the valley which empties her water straight to the Loktak lake – the biggest/largest fresh water lake in the entire North-East India. Nambul is the only river which has an UMBILICAL relationship with, an UMBILICUS link to, the Loktak.

The preservation and conservation of Loktak- the pride of North-East – and her surrounding eco-system, rich bio-diversity, myriad varieties of fishes and endangered species of flora and fauna depend on the health of Nambul. The very survival of the critically endangered Sangai – the Jewel in the (Manipur) Crown– the only brow-antlered (dancing) deer, rucervus eldii eldii found nowhere else in the world, is intrinsically linked to the "shape of water" flowing from the Nambul.

Saving Nambul is asine qua non to saving Loktak and Sangai.

* Rajendra Kshetri wrote this article for The Sangai Express
The writer is Professor and Head, Department of Sociology, Manipur University, Imphal.
Author of "The Emergence of Meetei Nationalism", "District Councils in Manipur: Formation and Functioning" and
"Sociology: Perception and Conception", he is also the founding President of Manipur Sociological Society (MSS)
This article was webcasted on March 18 , 2018.

* Comments posted by users in this discussion thread and other parts of this site are opinions of the individuals posting them (whose user ID is displayed alongside) and not the views of We strongly recommend that users exercise responsibility, sensitivity and caution over language while writing your opinions which will be seen and read by other users. Please read a complete Guideline on using comments on this website.

  • Protest against CAB [Jan 15] #1: Gallery
  • CChongkhong, Apanthou :: eMing
  • Crop diseases & organic way of managing
  • War and Poetry :: Poem
  • Landeng-Pena yakaiduna Poster Campaign
  • The Killing Fields 2013-18 : News Timeline
  • Condemns communal nature of CAB 2016
  • PCC, Arunachal Pradesh on CAB, 2016
  • CAB and other issues before LS polls
  • Sit-In against CAB [Jan 14] : Gallery
  • CAB : Our Identity & Culture is at stake
  • Re-Imagining the Naga Peace Process
  • Demand for ILP :: Articles/Photos...
  • Northeast Startup Summit 2019
  • Ponder them to live like human beings
  • No Shield for Manipur against CAB
  • Missing link: NE, CAB & obscure assurance
  • JCILPS Protest against CAB : Gallery
  • AMUCO Rally against CAB : Gallery
  • Poetic Justice - II :: Poem
  • Makar Sankranti Musing
  • Biren should release Kishorchandra
  • New archaeological site in Senapati
  • A Christian perspective on solidarity #1
  • New craft gallery to promote NE products
  • Rights body warns Nagas on Article 371 (A)
  • NE Black Day against CAB : Gallery
  • CAB Protest [11 Jan] #2 : Gallery
  • Narendra Modi @ Imphal #2: Gallery
  • Myanmar-India Business Summit, Sagaing
  • Cry of a Dying River - 61 :: Poem
  • Preventing the Dengue threat
  • NPF on Citizenship Amendment Bill, 2016
  • Nagaland Chief Minister On CAB 2016
  • Hijacking by pseudoscience
  • Inner Line Permit (ILP) Demand :: Timeline
  • Mr. CM, you can't fool people on CAB
  • CAB 2016: Adoption of foreign citizens
  • CAB Protest [11 Jan] #1 : Gallery
  • CAB & question of India's North East
  • Poetry Of Manipuri Women Authors #1
  • Local actions for #GlobalGoals
  • Know your HIV status
  • Pope Francis - the last Pope!
  • CAB is unsecular discriminatory bill
  • When Govt. disregard Constitutions...
  • Citizenship Bill: An exceptional exception
  • The Walking Lady : A Short Story
  • 4th Convocation Ceremony of CAU
  • The Voice of Silence :: Poem
  • Against CAB 2016 : 6 Student Bodies
  • Need for a separate time zone
  • BOOM MMA : 'Manipur Top Team' members
  • Against Citizenship Bill Act 2016
  • Lt Gen Rajeev Sirohi at Spear Corps
  • Is the middle man responsible
  • Economically weak at Rs 8 lakh per annum ?
  • Umanglai Haraoba: Traditional Institution
  • Strike against CAB : Gallery
  • People - animal conflict
  • Fine on relieving in public
  • Flawed/divisive Citizenship Bill dangerous
  • Broken :: Poem
  • Meetei gi mayokta leiba Political party..
  • NE uniting under shutdown call : CAB
  • Trains in NE to get 'glass-top' coaches
  • Yubi Lakpi #2 : Gallery
  • Freedom's fault lines
  • Traditional Manipuri Curries
  • Governance in Multi-Ethnic States
  • Understanding animal welfare
  • Unite against corruption for development
  • Manipurgi Maraibk Kari Oihougani
  • On restoring of director of CBI
  • Citizenship Bill : scourge for NE
  • Feel good factor from UNC
  • New Year picnic at Sekmai #2: Gallery
  • A tale of two falcons
  • Artificial Insemination in livestock
  • The Naked Truth :: Poem
  • My itinerary visit to Veeranapalya
  • Test for Free Coaching for IIT/AIIMS
  • Critique of Transgender Persons Bill
  • Press Rejoinder from NPF [7 Jan]
  • Nagaland Cabinet on Citizenship Bill
  • Can we expect something from govt
  • Mova Cave, Ukhrul #2 :: Gallery
  • Sangai Fest: Sumo Wrestling #2 :: Gallery
  • Maipaksana RK: Entrepreneurship Award
  • Poetic Justice - I
  • IIT-G Technology Incubation Centre
  • Sana Chahi Ahum & 1857 revolt #2
  • Economics of climate change & growth
  • Singhat Students tour to Delhi & Agra
  • Congress against Modi on Rafale Deal
  • Press Club celebrates foundation day
  • NSF to impose 11-hr bandh on Jan 8
  • 518 drug traffickers arrested in 2018
  • Gangmumei Kamei Memorial lecture
  • Taking the Street Vendor seriously #1
  • WWII museums in Japan: Gallery
  • Schedule : HSLC Examination 2019
  • Schedule : Class XI Examination 2019
  • Schedule : HSE Examination 2019
  • Caste System in Contemporary India: Book
  • Save energy and save your skin
  • Benefits of henna for beauty
  • Coronary In-stent obstruction treated
  • A take on PM visit to Imphal
  • No over the top promises, assurances
  • Narendra Modi @ Imphal #1: Gallery
  • Management of commercial broiler farming
  • 61st CC Meet Football Tournament 2019
  • Noise Ruins & Blights Lives
  • Social media & freedom of speech
  • Cry of a Dying River - 60 :: Poem
  • Declare war against air pollution
  • Winter relief at Thanga
  • Of monologues and conveniences
  • Raising posers before PM's arrival: Cong
  • Irengbam Bedamani :: eRang Photos
  • Poireiton Chakhao at Loktak Lake
  • Hojang :: Poem
  • New Year: Challenges & opportunities
  • One Rank One Pension Paper (OROP)
  • Fasting before diagnostic tests
  • Open Mic. event at Agartala
  • Happy New Year '2019' :: NPF
  • Naga Peace Process :: News Timeline
  • Respecting life & the trust deficit
  • Need to look beyond New Year-2019
  • New Year picnic at Sekmai #1: Gallery
  • May the Year 2019 bring integrity of Manipur
  • Sangai Fest: Evening Prog #2: Gallery
  • What I learned from Kishorchandra detention
  • Charlie, the angel :: Story
  • Against NSA to Kishorchandra Wangkhem
  • Quality New Year
  • Reminder to PM on Pravish Chanam death
  • What is there to be happy on New Year
  • Nupi Lal Ningsing Lamjel #4: Gallery
  • Eyek Tamba :: Learn Manipuri script
  • Village Authority in Hill Areas of Manipur #2
  • Sana Chahi Ahum & 1857 revolt #1
  • Local leaders commit to #endTobacco
  • Transformation of China in last 40 years
  • Boys Hostel for Pangal Students
  • From the diary of an insomniac - II
  • From nomenclature conflict of oral tradition
  • Gearing up for Parliamentary polls
  • Dimapur Meetei Council donates
  • Bye Bye 2018 !!! : Gallery
  • Manipuri Calendar for 2019 : Download
  • Featured Front Page Photo 2018 #6: Gallery
  • Unforgettable Revolutionary NK Sanajaoba
  • Life's pain :: Poem
  • New Year resolution of our honorables
  • Certificate distribution at Namsai, ArP
  • Indo-Myanmar Relations : Talk @ MU
  • Butchering a Pony for meat! Shameful
  • Top 5 Indie/Alternative Picks of 2018
  • Sangaithel Park @Sangai: Gallery
  • Things that change educational settings
  • Good Times around the Corner :: Poem
  • Mann Ki Baat - A Chicken Hide
  • Indira Gandhi - An ephemeral encounter
  • A view of Ukhrul Town #1: Gallery
  • January Calendar for Year 2019 :: Tools
  • National Mathematics Day & Ramanujan
  • Thougal Jagoi @Sangai: Gallery
  • Training Program at DM Community College
  • Ode to Radio Telegraphy
  • To the Muse :: Poem
  • Respecting the Freedom of Speech
  • Attending to homeless lady : Humane
  • Wildlife return after 50 years
  • Snowfall @Tamei, Tamenglong : Gallery
  • China spreads across Indochina Peninsula
  • Ningol Chakkouba Shopping a#2: Gallery
  • Cry of a Dying River - 59 :: Poem
  • Match words with actions to #endTB
  • Hacking : Base of all cyber crimes
  • Illegal adoptions in hospitals
  • Controlling the school transporters
  • Detention under NSA : Stand of MUSU
  • Xmas: Churches @Lamphel : Gallery
  • 27th Imphal Book Fair #2 : Gallery
  • The Crying Call of Motherland :: Poem
  • Jobs at C-DAC: International centre posting
  • Bye-Bye Congress Grass: Biological Mgmt
  • How to prevent your kajal / eye make up
  • Jobs at Manitech Consultancy, Imphal
  • Of politicians & their electoral politics
  • AFSPA: Politico-legal sanction for impunity?
  • Kwatha Festival #3 : Gallery
  • 12th Manipur Polo Intl #2 : Gallery
  • Manipur Statehood Day Women's Polo
  • Of Rafale deal: Beyond politics
  • Career options in painting
  • Gun Culture must be put to an End
  • Until Kishorechandra is released
  • Condemns arrest of Manipur journalist
  • Assam Rifles celebrates Christmas
  • Why the uproar against Manipur media ?
  • Tattooed With Taboos #3 : Review
  • Oinam Dilip : Rising Star Award 2018, Delhi
  • Human Resource Management :: Book
  • Christmas @Chingmeirong : Gallery
  • Harvard Leadership Program at Don Bosco
  • Manipur Fest 2019 in Bengaluru
  • Best Christmas Wishes :: Poem
  • Christmas @Churachandpur : Gallery
  • UN Rapporteur briefed on Kishorechand
  • Nupi Lal Ningsing Lamjel #3: Gallery
  • Irengbam Bedamani - Actress :: eRang
  • Communities @ Barak Festival #1 : Gallery
  • Khumanthem Prakash : Akademi Award
  • Ningol Chakouba @ MBC #4 : Gallery
  • List of Restricted Holidays for 2019
  • List of Public Holidays for 2019
  • List of General Holidays for 2019
  • Ningol - mapam lamdam : Gallery
  • Fabrics of Bangladeshi Manipuri: Download
  • Manglandasu Nang - OST :: e-pao Radio
  • Old Manipuri Movie #1 :: eRang Classic