World Water Day Water and the threat to its very existence

N. Shyamsundar Singh FIE
Contd from previous issue
Through the ages, ponds, lakes and streams have played a significant role in the supply of water for drinking and irrigation purposes. Sometimes, these wetlands also serve as flood cushions.
However, the custodians of these wetlands have paid scant attention to the well being of the water bodies that are considered to be really important for their ecosystem values for the flora & fauna they sustained, and also for their contribution towards maintaining temperature, water cycle and ecological balance. But, knowingly to otherwise, over the years, these bodies have been encroached extensively, built upon or reduced to dumping grounds for solid waste and sewage.
This shortsighted approach has also caused all forms of harm and damage to the bio-resources. In the meantime, large scale deforestation at this upper reach has also caused extensive damage in the form of silt & debris deposition in the water bodies. As a result, all of them have lost its original glory and aesthetics. Rather, they are critically degraded and on the verge of extinction.
These facts have been brought out very impressively by the team of Journalists that visited these wetlands during the last month (Feb’21). The question that remains unanswered so far is that whether their submission can open the eyes of concerned authorities like: the Revenue Department, Forest Department, Agriculture Department and Fisheries Department etc. of the State Govt. Perhaps, they are enjoying blame games.
G. Extent of Damage : All possible attempts have been made by different agencies to collect detailed information about the extent of damage done to the forests and wetlands by differently interested groups. But it may not cover all.
However, the same can also be seen if we take two Satellite Imageries for a particular area- one taken sometime in late seventies or early eighties and another taken very recently and compare them minutely. These two imageries will speak volumes about the changes that have taken place in that area over the last couple of decades. Similarly, table top studies on the satellite imageries can be done for all the wetlands including Loktak to assess the extent of damage. This kind of study should precede all the investigative activities.
H. Conclusion: All the living beings on earth need fresh water, therefore we need to save it. Else, our survival will be at stake.
(i) Therefore we may refer to a satellite imagery taken sometime in late seventies for the wetlands and initiate rational action for eviction, protection and development of all the wetlands based on the factual records.
(ii) The areas at the full reservoir level may be well demarcated so that it can be conveniently protected. Otherwise, it becomes a no-man’s-land.
(iii) Close monitoring with the help of drones or village authorities may be initiated  for the forests as done in the case of “Sangai”.
(iv)    Behavioural change of the people is the most essential one and it only can help solve the environmental problems. Proper motivation and awareness campaign may be helpful.
(v) Above all, commitment of the authority i.e. the owner is a must. Mere promise will not bear any fruit.

The writer is former Chairman, JERC for Manipur & Mizoram