Restored Wetland : Yaralpat

Rahul Ashem
Fortunately, Yaral-pat is one good example of wetlands restoration in Manipur. The pat is famous for the bloom of indigenous flower ‘Kombirei’ (Iris Spp), the mauve blue coloured flower.
Folklores link a close connection between the pat and the flower, basically known as the Yaralpat ki Kombirei. Restoration credit goes to the concept of local community participation in the act of securing Yaral resources. By definition, wetland restoration is the management of physical, chemical or biological characteristics of degraded wetlands to return to its natural functions. More importantly, restoration maintains the surrounding ecosystems and services, which in turn provide water, habitat and shelter to hundreds of plants and animals species. The Wetlands Rules (2017) defines complete autonomy to States to conserve and manage wetlands located within their managerial boundaries. The rules make it mandatory for States to have a State Wetland Authority, which will plan and execute wetland management interventions.
Summarizing, Yaral-pat had no qualifications as a wetland for many years. Many reasons must be there for the conversion of wetland to agricultural practices. In most cases, the attraction of wetlands for agriculture is that they are often flat, fertile lands with a ready supply of water. Besides, wetland agriculture provides an important coping mechanism for many rural communities having to deal with the harsh vagaries of climate. The State is known to depend on agriculture for their economic growth and provides economic support for each and every household. Ina support of the UN International Year, Ramsar’s theme for World Wetlands Day (2014) is ‘Wetlands and Agriculture’. It provides an opportunity to highlight the importance of wetlands in supporting agriculture. The theme gives special attention to the role of wetlands in providing natural infrastructure to support agriculture for food production. In practice, agricultural use of wetlands  alters the ecological systems and services. The use of fertilizer and pesticide has destroyed many of these values at present. Scientific studies suggest that agriculture and agricultural practices simply destroy wetlands, undermining biodiversity and degrading all the beneficial ecosystem services that they provide. Most of the wetlands found in Manipur (hills and valley) are under threatened conditions. In other cases, some wetlands are ephemeral and remain dry for years at a time.
Generally, destruction of wetlands disturbs the ecological services and functions as well as the livelihoods and well being of the people. (To be contd)