Irreparably damaged?

ALONG with continuous report about landslides, earth cracks and flash floods making life miserable for many in both the hill and valley areas of Manipur, the degree of destruction and threat posed to human due by natural calamities leaves no doubt that irreparable damage has been caused to the environment. The scale of devastation witnessed till date this year, thus, should be a bitter lesson for all that mother earth is unwilling to tolerate any further damage. Drastic change in the overall climatic condition across the state; which some years back used to have mostly moderate weather throughout the year; indicates that time is ripe enough for all to undertake worthy environmental struggles at the ground level rather than hope that the periodical gathering of global leaders will come up with some effective mechanisms to protect the environment. Construction of various structures along the banks of major rivers flowing through the state capital, some self-centric individuals barricading river banks to plant crops and crematoriums constructed by the river banks sum up the fact that the common people are hesitant from contributing their mite in checking frequent breaching of river banks. Massive landslides in the hills and inundation of low-lying pockets in the valley owing to breach of river banks, in quick succession after cyclone Mora brought incessant rainfall, exposed that the enviable concept of living in harmony with nature is no more an integral part of our culture.

Harmonious co-existence between mankind and nature is being abundantly reflected in a variety of traditional practices, religious beliefs, rituals, folklore, arts and crafts, and in the daily life of the people since time immemorial. The present day global concerns for sustainable development and conservation of natural resources are of recent origin in comparison to the long tradition and cultural ethos of nature conservation both in Manipur and across the country or world. It is learnt that virtually all the countries of the world have rich traditions embedded in the ethics of protecting nature. Many ancient cultures tell us how communities lived in harmony with nature, with a tradition of reverence for the elements that constitute ecosystems, drawing their sustenance from natural resources and at the same time protecting the environment that sustains them. Though there exist a tendency to look down upon indigenous people as primitive, backward and superstitious or even disadvantageous in many other ways, the fact remains that they have a tremendous understanding of the ecosystems and the factors that sustain them. However, as the scale of destruction caused to the nature has seemingly crossed the limit, sticking to the traditional methods/practices and hoping that environment would improve in due course sounds unrealistic. As such, the government needs to take some proactive steps to protect the environment, including immediate crackdown on illegal structures built along the river banks in order to check recurrence of man-made flooding. When United States legislators could overwhelmingly pass bills that would ensure that money from environmental legal settlements are spent for restoration of nature and not diverted to any other sector, there is no reason why the government of Manipur should not go ahead with the simple task of clearing illegally constructed structures and all other obstacles, which are blocking the smooth flow of the rivers.

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