Dying Nambul River on the course of recovery ; still a long way to go

By Our Staff Reporter
IMPHAL, Jul 4: After a gap of four/five decades, a boat ride was taken out on Nambul River which is closely associated with the history and civilization of Manipur.
The boat ride was taken out on Thursday last as a part of a media campaign to save Nambul River. The media campaign  ‘Save Nambul River” was jointly organised by the AMWJU and the Directorate of Environment & Climate Change and it was supported by Editors’ Guild Manipur (EGM), Manipur Pollution Control Board (MPCB) and Loktak Development Authority (LDA).
The boat ride was flagged off from Khwai Thong and wrapped up at Yangoi Karong bridge.
Six teams comprising of eight persons including two rowers each took part in the boat ride. Each team used two boats which were tied together. They were followed by two motorboats.
Notably, Nambul River is formed by three streams namely; Abulok, Luwangli and Singda which originate from the Kangchup hill range.
Nambul River is joined by Nambol River at Yangoi Karong. Starting from this confluence, the river is known as Yangoi River and it drains into Loktak Lake. The distance between Yan-goi Karong and Loktak Lake is around 4/5 Kms. 
Talking on the campaign, Environment & Climate Change Deputy Director Dr T Brajakumar said that Nambul River course was free from pollution some 50/60 years back and it was used as a waterway.
However, the river became highly polluted during the last two/three decades. Nambul River was listed among the 350 most polluted rivers selected by the Government of India from across the country.
It was so polluted, filthy and stinky that no people ventured into the river.
Around 72 drains and canals fall into Nambul River. These drains and canals discharge effluents as well as solid wastes into the river. As such, they are the primary sources for pollution of Nambul River.
The most polluted and filthiest section of Nambul River is from Iroishemba to Heirangoithong and these areas are ironically covered by Imphal Municipality, Dr Brajakumar said.
One 90 year old man whom the campaigners met at Yangoi Karong said that the spot where a bailey bridge now stands was used as port or anchorage some 50/60 years back.
Boats travelling along Yangoi River from Loktak Lake and boats travelling downstream on Nambol River were anchored at the particular spot, he said.
People even used to transport paddy on boats on  Nambul River. People also delivered taxes (in kind) to the king by taking the Nambul River waterway, said the 90 year old man.
Earthen pots were transported by boats till Thong Nambonbi for sale at Khwairamband market. At that time, the water of Nambul River was very clean.
With the improvement in road infrastructure and introduction of different types motor vehicles coupled with pollution of Nambul River, the same river serving as a convenient waterway has become history, he added.
Retaining walls have been built on both banks of the river from Khwai Thong to Keishamthong. IMC staff were also seen cleaning the river bank at this section. As such, the particular section looked neat and clean.
The conservation work is being done under the Rejuvenation & Conservation of Nambul River which was launched in March last year. This project is funded by the Central Government and the Department of Environment & Climate Change is its nodal agency.
In addition to Government departments/authori- ties, civil organisations and people settled along the course of Nambul River have also been contributing in conserving and rejuvenating the river. As compared to its condition seen a couple of decades back, many positive changes can now be seen in Nambul River. Yet,  disposal of waste materials, both solid and liquid, into the river can be seen even today.
One of the occupants of the boat sailing before us threw down an empty plastic bottle into the river. Khwairakpam Krishnamohon (34) who was rowing our boat picked up the bottle and said that the very act of throwing plastic bottle into the river contradicted the very purpose of the boat ride.
Together with Krishnamohon, Laishram Shyam (41) was rowing our boat. Both of them belong to Sendra.
Krishnamohon said that  it is the upper section or the upstream where maximum pollution occurs.
Plastic wastes and other waste materials brought down to Loktak Lake by Nambul River are so huge and appalling, he remarked.    
As told by Krishnamohon, many plastic wastes and thermocol sheets were found on Nambul River in the course of the boat ride.
Many drains whose loads are dark and stinky fall into Nambul River.
A land mass was found before reaching Heirangoithong and it hindered the boat ride for some minutes. Large heaps of biomass were seen entangled at Samushang Shantipur bridge but they did not pose any hurdle to the boat ride.
Ahead of the boat ride, shrubs and bushes growing in the river bed were removed by MPCB using excavator and motorboats at the initiative of MPCB Chairman MLA L Radhakishore.
With the people settled along the river course extending support and cooperation to the Government’s efforts to conserve and rejuvenate the river, it is slowly returning to its earlier self.
But there are lots to be done before Nambul River is restored to its unpolluted condition.