Leave nature alone
- Part 2 -

Gonmei Meithuanlungpou Sebastian *

(An extract from my forthcoming book "Beautiful Manipur Hills")

In addition to this, since the people entirely depend on nature for survival, total ban from cutting or hunting may not be possible. It can only be reduced through awareness and systematic rules and approach which are people friendly and environmentally balance. For example, instead of imposing hard impracticable law, the people should be motivated not to harvest nature during flowering or reproduction period and also the young ones. They should also be convinced not to kill useful and harmless animals' species.

Every village should have a declared reserve forest of the village to conserve water and also preserve the plant and animal species. The village authority, youth and land owners of the village should be given the sole responsibility to look after the environment and the reserved forest with special schemes and incentives for the welfare of the society.

Since the village constitute about eighty to ninety percent of Manipur, it is of paramount importance for the village to be involved directly in preserving the environment of the state. If the people are really serious about preserving the environment, special camp and seminars should be organised in the villages and not only in towns and cities.

Endangered floral and faunal species of Manipur: Apart from Nong-in the state bird, many floral and faunal species like hornbill, tragopan, tiger, gibbon, reindeer, bear, stag, otter, hog badger, reptiles, pangolin, pengba, orchids, lilies, rhododendrons, medicinal plants, uningthou (Phoebe hainensenia), Leihao (Michelia champacca), Uthambal (Magnolia), and Thangji (Quercus sp.), etc., will soon join the list of extinct species before they could be saved.

It is a very sad thing to see that even useful and harmless animal species like nymph (young ones of dragon fly), lizards and frogs which are very useful in combating the deadly mosquitoes are not spared from being fried in the kitchen. Interestingly, Mosquitoes stings man: Dragonflies eats mosquitoes: Man eats dragonflies. Beliefs like some animals are beneficial in treating certain diseases, etc., also creates certain species highly demanded in the open and black market which led to drastic decrease in their number.

Thirty years back, we could see the majestic flock of hornbills flying across the villages every day. Interestingly, in those days, children would not have the mid-day meal without seeing the hornbill flying across the village. In the early part of 1980s, we could hear the gibbons and barking deer howling freely in the wild of Manipur hills.

We could see the monkey sun bathing on tree branches. Just thirty years back, people used only primitive tools for hunting. In those days, hunting was just one part of recreation and community sharing, but now, hunting is a profession and the killed game is for sale at high price. Today, we could see no hornbill flying or gibbon howling in the forest of Manipur.

Both deforestation and excessive hunting are responsible for the extinction of these precious wild life species. One or two addicted hunters can eliminate the whole species of wild animals living in the radius of the village. So, if every village has these numbers of hunters or more, it is not difficult to assume that the population of wild life is shrinking day by day. This is the immediate concern of the state lying at hand.

If we don't act now, we should be prepared to regret. As precautionary measures, the district administration used to collect the license guns during election. Similarly, the best way to control hunting and killing of wild animal is to stop the sale of guns and fire arms in the market including air gun. Since gun is for shooting, it is better not to possess any, because if you have, you would be tempted to shoot one day.

The authority should ban or retrieve all the license guns from the people by refunding the amount for the license guns and create a peaceful gun free (gun less) state. All forms of sophisticated traps and hunting implements should not be permitted to be sold or possessed. Even with traditional hunting implements, hunting or killing of endangered species should strictly be prohibited. With regard to fishing, the people has now realised that fishing with chemicals or electrical appliances is same as cutting one's own knee with knife.

Pollution and Pollutants in Manipur:

Types of pollution in Manipur can be divided into four categories.
1. Water pollution,
2. Air pollution,
3. Noise pollution,
4. Land pollution.

Some important rivers and lakes of the state like Barak, Irang, Iril, Imphal river, Nambol river, Chakpi river, loktak lake, etc., nourishes and quenches the people and the land of Manipur. Among these rivers and lakes, the most polluted are the ones which pass through cities and towns. For example, rivers that pass through Imphal city can never be clean or the Loktak lake which is located in the southern part of the city cannot be free from harmful pollutants.

In simple observation, the main pollutants of these rivers and lakes are polythene (plastic), industrial waste and chemical waste (organic and inorganic waste). The most harmful pollutants among these are the plastics, industrial waste and inorganic waste (chemical and pesticides).

Manipur also witnessed small amount of air pollution especially in the densely populated areas. Most pollutants of the air are dust, smoke, carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide. Cases of air pollution in the hill areas are very minimal. After the introduction of diesel auto, vehicle with loud noise, use of loud speakers, factories and machineries, the degree of noise pollution in the towns and cities of Manipur is increasing day by day.

Land pollution particularly would mean the pollution of soil, but the pollution of the land surface can also be included in this category. Most pollutants of the soil are chemicals, pesticides and plastics. The pollutants of the surface areas of the land, be it residential, public, tourist spots or forest are the plastic bags and items, glasses and domestic waste.

No one can deny the fact that there are no plastic wastes and broken glasses in Dzukou, Shirui, Buning, Koubru and Loktak lake. In the bygone years, people used only plantain leaf and bamboo basket to wrap and carry food items and other human use. However, at present, the people feel more convenient to use plastic bag for every purpose.

Most scholars and environmentalists would agree that one of the most harmful pollutants of 21st century is the plastics and its other products. Though it is recyclable, most of the people are not aware or serious about it. At the same time, the manufacturers are not so responsible or do not take active part in collecting the plastic waste to recycle them.

However, if the government is really serious about these hazards, it should stop the factories from producing plastic bags and items instead of blaming the choice less public. The sources must be stopped not the users. The habit of littering and lack of civic sense is one of the major problems among the people of Manipur.

Sense of responsibility, common sense and civic sense can solve fifty percent of the prevailing environmental problems in Manipur. Let the people of Manipur practice the beautiful saying, "Cleanliness is next to godliness." in every house, village, street, locality, town, city, public place and tourist spot. Let the people be more responsible without forgetting the fact that honesty and loyalty to the responsibility is the greatest contribution one can ever make for the society.

Thank God! The earth is still rotating. The sun still shines. The seasons still comes. The rain still falls. The flowers still blooms. The birds and cicadas still sing. It is not too late. Let us join hands and leave nature alone for a historic today and a better tomorrow.

Concluded ...

* Gonmei Meithuanlungpou Sebastiant wrote this article for The Sangai Express
The writer is also the author of the book "Rongmei Folk Tales and Naga Proverbs" and Editor of the book "When I am Dead".
This article was posted on August 29, 2017.

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