Environment conservation & mankind’s immediate requirements
It was with the Industrial Revolution which heralded the rise of capitalism. Once capitalism became the dominant model of economy, almost all human societies ceased to live in harmony with their natural surroundings. Almost everywhere in the world, both advanced and backward societies started exerting huge pressure on the local environments depleting them to catastrophic levels. This is a phenomenon witnessed in different parts of the world, today. In more advanced and complex societies, limitless yearning for material comfort is taking heavy toll on environment. In relatively backward societies existential necessities and struggle for survival is degrading environment to a suicidal level. In the context of Manipur, jhum cultivation is a perfect example. Until and unless the State makes necessary alternative arrangements which are sustainable, both economically and ecologically, the hill people are unlikely to give up this age old practice of paddy cultivation. So far, there has been little or no intervention from the State. The utter insensitivity of the successive Governments towards environmental concerns is proven beyond doubt by the continued practice of slash-and-burn agriculture by a sizeable section of the hill people. Despite the devastating effect on environment and ecology, the State never bothers to transfer the shifting cultivators to another source of livelihood or replace it with other income generating occupations. If the state had the least concern for the degrading environment, it could have made arrangements within its power to replace shifting cultivation with terraced cultivation. This could have been done decades back. By doing so environmental degradation and ecological imbalance could have been mitigated to a considerable extent. Hopefully, the Government would act this time.
Environmental degradation or climate change is perhaps the most talked about topic these days. At the same time, we must admit that modernization minus industrial or economic growth, primitive methods of agriculture, lack of awareness and myopic state policies are the principal factors responsible for the fast depleting natural resources and the unprecedented scale of ecological imbalance seen in Manipur. The reality is, the supportive capacity of our environment has already been stretched beyond its limits and the cost is heavy. Let’s hope the CM’s Green Manipur Mission marks a paradigm shift. We are not sure if the quite promising mission has any provision to replace jhum cultivation with environment friendly occupations but one thing is certain. As long as the jhum cultivation continues, a green Manipur can never be achieved. In another word, jhum cultivation is one major challenge to any mission aimed at checking environmental degradation in the State. Illegal lumbering is another major cause of environmental and ecological degradation in the State. All the negative impacts of over-exploitation are now glaringly visible. Flash floods as well as acute drought like situation are no longer uncommon these days. Having said this, we don’t expect our people would stop over-exploitation of forest resources from tomorrow or next month or next year. It is here, State intervention is needed the most. It is a widely accepted view that protecting the environment constitutes a net expense to economy. It is in human nature, immediate requirements always precede future security. What we are doing today is sacrificing the entire future generations for our immediate requirements. But we must understand that the real treasure of mankind is the natural resources, ecology and environment. Investment in environment conservation initiatives would never go waste. On the contrary, it would pay back in full.