Sanasam Yaiphaba Singh
River has a very high economic and social value as it possesses the capacity of being utilised in various uses. It is more valuable when the benefits of the river are readily available in the proximity of the localities. But, the value of the river and its water depends on its uses and the perspective of the people residing near the river. The Nambul river is such a natural gift which flows through the heart of Imphal city. It starts from Kangchup hill range and flows into Loktak Lake. The water of the river is comparatively clean before it enters into Imphal area, particularly the Khairamband bazaar. The valuation of the clean water is necessary for wise and efficient allocation of the scarce water among the users at different locations.
The Nambul river was so polluted that it was considered as one of the dirtiest rivers in the country. The situation was widely discussed recently in the media. It was discussed that the main cause for the pollution of the river was the use of the river as a dumping zone of the garbage produced from Kwairamban area, and the concerned authorities specially assigned for disposal of the garbage were not in a position to dispose of the garbage in time. It has also discussed an interesting phenomenon of the river where the river was seen flowing clean water when the garbage products of the area had been reduced to almost zero level during the period of lockdown because of the COVID 19 pandemic.
The collection and the disposal of the garbage in time would be the responsibility of the implementing authorities of the solid waste management programme. In fact, the solid waste management (SWM) has become an integral part of the basic service of the Municipality or the Corporation. The unplanned increase of urban population definitely generates more and more liquid and solid wastes, and as such the timely disposal of the garbage is a challenge in the state like Manipur where the resource is limited. But, the concerned authorities would have to choose a suitable model of solid waste management. Apart from scientific approaches of keeping Nambul water clean, it also needed a study in social, economic and management aspects that help in adapting a system among the population to preserve this particular river which is much associated with the state’s history. Most importantly the substantial number of the populace settling close to the main roads and the river are to subscribe to the venture for making the city filth-free. The urban dwellers, most of whom are considered to be educated and those who are among the creamy layer of the society seems to have lost the sense that Nambul river is also one of the main sources of water. In fact more than 50 percent of the urban population has access to potable water i.e. water which is safe to drink, pleasant to taste and usable for domestic purposes. So low importance of river water strongly prevails in the mindset of urban dwellers
There are also many other factors for the pollution of the river, such as the throwing of the garbage and the domestic sewages in the course of the river, besides having more than 72 drains and canals including the Naga Nulah which fall into the river. Therefore, the cleaning of the river water and keeping it fresh and clean will pose certain inherent difficulties. The solid waste generated from the Nambul catchment was estimated at 72.23 million tonnes and 31,203 cum of sewage on a daily basis (Atlas of Loktak Lake, 2004).
The act of somebody is responsible for the pollution which imposes some social and economic cost to other people and concerned authorities. Rotten garbage on the banks and also in the water of the river has an immediate adverse effect on health. Rivers being the community resource, people should have the right to access to certain river resources without affecting the quality and natural flow of the water. But, the river has a limit to bear the human pressure beyond which it has no capacity to sustain.
The Government of Manipur has taken up a number of measures to prevent pollution, and recently it launched (March, 2019) an ambitious project known as ‘Rejuvenation and Conservation of Nambul River’ to prevent pollution of the river from Iroisenba to Heirangoithong which is like to be completed soon. It is also reported that the State Government has submitted proposals of such projects to be implemented in the eight other rivers. A boat rally was successfully organised very recently on the theme of Save Nambul River. In fact a comprehensive policy on the conservation of rivers of the state is necessary.
The direct benefit and on-side uses of the cleaning of the water and the development of the river will be the creation of recreational facilities like angling, boating, swimming, sightseeing, walking, etc. which is always accompanied along with amenity values from the surrounding environment. In the perspective of the creation of eco-tourism, the venture will automatically provide employment to those who would go on maintaining the activities. Besides, the people of the city and the Government may have the benefit of pleasure of seeing a clean river with its natural habitat of fishes, trees, plants and birds. It may be a pride of the people in maintaining a clean river for our present and future generation. The historical background of the river will able to keep alive. Once the natural course of the river is restored, the incremental benefit from the cleaning of the river can be assessed using different methods, and the contingent valuation method is one of them.
The preparation and the implementation of a project for conservation of the river in consultation with the stakeholders addressing their needs may be a suitable venture. The approach from the point of technical and environmental dimensions along with socio-ecological and eco-tourism perspectives may continuously work to mitigate the causes and the factors of pollution of the river.
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