Of Nambul River and Professor Rajendra Kshetrimayum - I

Soibam Nepola
Almost every adult in Manipur might have, at least, heard of Nambul river as it has been the life (read as: a part) of this land: socio-politically, economically and historically; and thus form a major part (find along) with the writings, narratives, folklore, cultural identity, songs etc. After all, it serves as one of the basic blocks that build our way of life and how we construct and create meanings. Today’s Manipur own different cohorts of population with varied account on the Nambul river based on multiple experiences, understandings and perceptions, vertically as well as longitudinally. We have generations whose lives and stories contain the clean-productive-lively-giver Nambul as its integral part, physically as well as mentally, and are very optimistic about its role and preservation alongside the others who understand the same Nambul river as the dirt, drainage and dumping spot and thus have described it as a ‘Nala/Nali’.
Professor Rajendra Kshetrimayum, as per my understanding, comes under the first category and is very optimistic about the river and saving its life to return to its pristine beauty. His association with Nambul is not something very recent as his anthology “Cry of a Dying River” or as an academician or environmentalist, as people know/address about him. He has a full life to tell about Nambul in multiple phases and degrees. He could narrate about a ‘tribe’ (read as population) whose lives revolve around this river and is dying along with this river. He could draw an elaborate canvas on the live as supported by Nambul. He, being a member of that community, is very optimistic and always has an eagerness to share, with all, the life as constructed and molded by Nambul which is very lively, healthy and productive.
Just to begin with, it needs a mammoth effort and genuine interest, as the Professor has shown, to write continuously for a hundred and one week just to share the world and culture as it was created by Nambul during its heyday, and the associating inhuman destructions that follow. He sees a world and always wanted to revive that era (of Nambul) for the betterment of mankind by bringing consciousness and responsibilities to the general public. As a voice he shared the live as he experienced in and around Nambul river and call for efforts to protect the river from further pollution. The efforts as asked are not gigantic but to be simply responsible with ones action by not throwing garbage in and around the river basin at individual level. In the collective and Governmental level, he suggested the State Government to create MRPF (Manipur River Protection Force) to strategically stop/check polluting the river (by throwing garbage) and imposing fine/penalty to the violators (The Sangai Express, 13 April, 2017, Wanted: Manipur River Protection Force ). He highlighted how we, individually as well as collectively as a society, ignore the ‘real issues’ while trying to manage and fulfill the immediate needs/demands. Again he pours out his heart on “Saving Nambul: Need of the hour” (The Sangai Express, 07 February, 2018) upon the neglect as faced by Nambul and called for Political will to save not only Nambul but also all the rivers from further pollution and degradation.
Appreciating the commitment as made by the Honourable Chief Minister of Manipur and at the same time reminding to the concerned authorities and also to the general public he quoted, “Police would be deployed in civil dress to check improper disposal of garbage and pull up the culprits” – CM N. Biren (from Sangai Express, 02 February, 2018) and “…. those responsible for disposing trash/wastes to the Nambul river will be arrested and exposed through/by media…” – CM. N. Biren (from Poknapham, 02 February, 2018). Thus his love for Nambul river and efforts to maintain its pristine beauty and natural ecosystem has always been the effort of Prof. Rajendra. He further continued following-up, reminding and also constantly putting up a voice for Nambul river through different platforms and exposes the reluctant attitude of the people who made efforts not to notice the issues even when it lies in front of their eyes and thus called for Manipur River Policy (The Sangai Express, 15 March 2018, Saving Nambul: Convergence of divergent views).
The love of Nambul also made Professor Rajendra Kshetrimayum to conduct survey physically and examines its path and the existing conditions from Abulok (origin/source) till Yangoi (end point). He shared with us how he went rowing on a wooden boat from the confluence point of Nambul and Nambol river at Yangoi to Loktak through Yangoi Maril Achouba. The boat ride, according to the Professor, was an experience of a life-time. During the journey he deepened his connection with the river by interacting and collecting narratives as shared by communities residing around the river. He even had shared his views, created awareness and demanded for actions to save the river during his journey and beyond. The close association that the Professor has with Nambul is the source for his anthology “Cry of a Dying River”, not his position as an academician or environmentalist.
Concerning over the ill destiny of Nambul river, he even showed the path for opting to achieve “Living Entities” title as granted to Ganga recently by the Central Government. With the passage of 14th March 2021, International Day of Action for River, he asked for the rights of Nambul river as bestowed through Universal Declaration on the Rights of River to let the river flow freely from pollution in its native biodiversity with right to regeneration and restoration. He continued voicing for the rights of ‘Nambul as a river’ and wonders: Who will fight for and give these rights to our beloved Nambul?

The writer can be reached at ([email protected]) and she is a  Research Scholar, Department of Sociology, Manipur University