Jhum no longer reliable : Leishiyo

By Our Staff Reporter
IMPHAL, Jan 18: Hill Areas Committee Chairman  K Leishiyo has said that jhum cultivation is no longer a reliable source of livelihood.
He was speaking at the seed sowing festival of Ramthou Phanit celebrated today at Nambashi Khullen.
Ramthou Phanit is a traditional festival of the Tangkhuls and it dates back to pre-Christian era. It is basically a festival of praying to the Almighty seeking abundance of crops, prosperity etc.
Speaking at the gathering, K Leishiyo who represents Phungyar AC in the State Assembly said that jhum cultivation is one of the most primitive forms of agriculture.
Ramthou Phanit is a festival of offering prayer to the Almighty before commencement of jhum cultivation, he said.
Asserting that such festivals constitute key elements of culture, the HAC Chairman underscored the importance of preserving one’s traditions and culture.
If smaller communities cannot preserve their own culture and traditions, they would not be able to protect their identity and they would be ultimately swallowed by larger communities, Leishiyo said.    
In the absence of terraced cultivation in Nambashi Khullen and surrounding areas, people are compelled to go for jhum cultivation.
On the other hand, the Government has been vigorously preaching against the adverse impacts of jhum cultivation and deforestation. In such a scenario, one would definitely like to ask if the Government has arranged any alternative to jhum cultivation, Leishiyo said.
Whereas a number of officials would be coming to Nambashi Khullen to declare certain places as forest areas, local people have done very little for development of their own native villages.
If a family gets rich or has some money, they would shift to either Ukhrul or Imphal. They would construct multi-storeyed buildings at Imphal whereas the houses seen at Nambashi are torn and worn out. Those who have shifted to Imphal and other more developed places come back to Nambashi during Christmas and other festivals only for a few days, Leishiyo said.
Visitors from Imphal and other places  might get an impression that Nambashi is a very poor place. People of Nambashi do not want to keep any property at their native village. They prefer to own properties at far off places, he remarked.
All those people who have shifted to Imphal would come back to Nambashi when there is any unrest at Imphal. During Christmas time and when there is unrest at Imphal, there is not enough space at Nambashi ground for all the vehicles which bring back Nambashi villagers, the HAC Chairman remarked.
“I would wholeheartedly welcome if the State Government comes out with a notification which prohibits sale of land to hill people at Imphal”, he said while decrying the detachment shown by the people of Nambashi to their birthplace.
He then underscored the importance of developing one’s own birthplace instead of seeking new homestead elsewhere.
Informing that the State Government has been working to frame a regulation on jhum cultivation, Leishiyo said that as of now no one can say what would happen to jhum cultivation if the regulation is brought into effect.
Meanwhile efforts are on to open trade centres at Namli, Wangli and Tinsong and this is nothing but exploration of alternatives to jhum cultivation, Leishiyo said.
Reminding that the Chief Minister has already given assurance to open a border haat or a land custom centre, the HAC Chairman appealed to the people of Nambashi to support each other and shift their attention to trade and other commercial activities.
Chingai AC MLA Khashim Vashum and many Members of Ukhrul ADC too attended the function.