World Water Day
Water and the threat to its very existence
N. Shyamsundar Singh FIE
Contd from previous issue
When the level of ground water decreases drastically, the water cannot be used anymore. The surface run off goes directly to the oceans through streams and rivers.
However, evaporation occurs as soon as the precipitation reaches the surface of the earth and it is more in the sunlight. Water vapour gets continuously added to air even in the night as the air surrounding us gets heated during the day time. Thus, water from the surface of the earth goes into the air as vapour to form cloud through the continuing process of evaporation.
At the same time, the plants that collect a large amount of water from the soil, (i.e. percolated water) for preparation of its food and other different purposes, release a part of the collected water in the form of vapour through its leaves by a process called transpiration. For instance, wheat plants that can give one kilogram of wheat, release nearly 500 litres of water into air. Therefore, it is not easy to assess the quantum of water released in the form of vapour by the plants of all the forests, crops and grasslands across the globe together.
When the water vapour comes into contact with the surrounding cold air in the atmosphere, it condenses and forms tiny droplets known as clouds. These floating droplets come together to form large sized drops of water and they began to fall as either rain or hail or snow depending upon the pressure & the temperature conditions at the high altitude.
Thus, the water is brought back to the surface of the earth by rain, hail or snow. It follows the same path as stated earlier and replenishes water in ponds, lakes, rivers and wells etc. and also completes the water cycle. Therefore, it is a proven fact that we need water bodies as well as forests on the earth’s surface to bring precipitation down on earth. In simple words, we can firmly elucidate that Water Begets Water.
E. Intrinsic Relation: In the preceding para we have discussed a little more than what is required for this paper, reason being that we need to know the Intrinsic Relations among Forest, Water and Wetland and the vital role it plays in performing the duties assigned by the nature.
E.1. Between the Water & the Forest: As already explained, we cannot expect a good precipitation without the natural contribution in the form of vapour from the leaves of the plants of the forests. At the same time, forests also need good rainfall for its perfect growth and development at large.
E.2. Between the Water & the Wetland: Similarly, the intrinsic relation between the water and the wetland also plays a distinctive role in bringing back the precipitation. Wetland, also known as Wealthland in some section of the society, contributes a large quantity of vapour into the air and helps the cloud to form huge amount of precipitation.
E.3. Between the Forest & the Wetland: Normally, forest is available at a higher altitude than that of the wetland. The surface run off from the forest comes to natural streams that drain the water to the nearby wetlands. A part of percolated water also joins the wetland downstream. These activities are natural and closely associated with water cycle.
E.4. Wildlife Sanctuaries : Wildlife cannot survive at all when any one of the above three is missing in the sanctuary.
Therefore, we must not do anything that can meddle the nature or the environment. Because, it would simply mean digging our own grave.
F. Manipur and its Scenario: In early eighties, Tamenglong district of the State was having an average annual rainfall (aar) of about 1500mm. The valley area of the State was also having rainfall well above the normal at that time. Since then, the rainfall has gradually been decreasing in all parts of the State.
Over the last few years, the aar has gone down much below normal (about 1000mm). It shows that the water cycle has been distorted to a great extent in the State. The scanty rainfall may be the clear indication of loss of both forests and waterbodies. It may also be due to the impact of climate change.
F.1. Loss of Forest : Reportedly, several hundreds of acres of forest were burnt/destroyed in many districts of the State every year. Forest fire usually occurs during wildfire season i.e. January to May. The year 2020 recorded 11,340 forest fire incidents-the highest number of forest fire in the last 18 years. Forest Department has come out with a long list of forest fire incidents recorded since 2003 (TSE, 15th Jan. 21). However, it was silent on total area affected, actions taken for afforestation of affected area, security measures to protect the forest, conservation of the adjoining forest and action against the criminals etc. One must not take the incident lightly because it is a heinous crime against all living beings.
Elsewhere, large scale felling of trees has also been done for commercial and domestic purposes. In addition, widespread cultivation of ganja and poppy over several thousands of acres of land in the hill districts have also been reported very often in local dailies. This practice has been adopted with the intention to earn livelihood easily. It may be taken as a more serious crime because the top fertile soil will be washed out or eroded during the rainy season and the barren land cannot be used for any kind of vegetation/plantation for several years. Therefore, the concerned authorities may take adequate initiatives to monitor and conserve the forest as done in the case of “Sangai” and other endangered species.
F.2. Loss of Water Bodies : Wetlands are an inherent part of our culture.
(To be contd)