We reap what we sow
M Asnikumar Singh
The above line is a fairly simple one but carries a deeper meaning when we introspect our role in the wrath of nature that we face today.
•A 2007 World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) report states that the Indus River may run dry for the same reason
•Temperatures in India have risen by 0.7 °C (1.3 °F) between 1901 and 2018.
•A report by a London-based global think tank found that India may lose anywhere around 3-10% of its GDP annually by 2100 and its poverty rate may rise by 3.5% in 2040 due to climate change
•In India, exposure to heat waves is said to increase by 8 times between 2021 and 2050, and by 300% by the end of this century.
A short view back into one’s treasured past
I still remember back in the early 80s we used to walk 3-4 miles to school everyday. Those were happy days indeed. The road to school was an unpaved one but it was not treacherous. Rather, it was uplifting in a distinct way. The lush green surroundings and the cool summer breeze made the long walks to school seem like a daydream. If we take the same walk today, it surely won’t be a pleasant one. The trees that used to line up the way to our school, simply don’t exist anymore. The cool breeze has now been replaced by an exasperating feeling of humidity.
In our days of youth, we used to take pride in the fact that Manipur’s hills (with their lush green tops, beautiful flora and fauna) were a sight to behold. Fast forward a few decades and all we see are barren hills. Nothing can be more heartbreaking than this.
During my school vacation days, I used to visit my maternal aunt who lived in another district. On the way to her place, the sight of the beautiful Pumlen Lake used to mesmerise us. Now, all we see is a lake which has also vanished right in front of our eyes.
Back in those days we used to sleep without any hassle in the absence of a fan. Now, we cannot sleep without an AC in the summer months, especially in the metro cities.
Some decades ago we used to consume fish breeds like Ngaton, Nganoi, Pengba (they were abundantly found in the Loktak Lake and other freshwater bodies of the State) on a regular basis but now, they have become extremely rare. The simple fact is that the declining quality of water affected the natural cycle of the State’s freshwater bodies have contributed to such developments.
The times and circumstances have changed; the natural environment around us has regressed horribly in every sense.
The Present Doom
The highly defective air quality and soul sucking temperatures in Delhi are truly shocking. When introspected locally too, the situation is equally gruesome and a cause for concern. The current situation of our beautiful Manipur facing flash floods, landslides has slapped everyone with the harsh reality that the world we live in is a better place when we do not fiddle with it for our own selfish needs. In truth, the situation that we face today is the direct consequence of blatant disrespect for our natural environment. Cutting down of forests mercilessly for sinister purposes like poppy plantation, illegal timber trade, dumping of wastes into rivers, streams have resulted in flash floods.
The consequence of mass scale deforestation is that the upper layer of the soil is unable to hold itself together and is being washed down rapidly during the rainy seasons. This in turn has caused landslides, massive loss of lives and property. Moreover, the dumping of non biodegradable wastes into our water bodies has reduced the depth and quality of lakes, rivers and other water bodies. Drains and city streams remain blocked due to plastic, solid wastes. This has resulted in localities being choked with excess water during the monsoon.
Today, the 5th of June, we observe World Environment Day. It is observed every year to encourage people to take action and save the environment. This year’s theme is- Only One Earth. It aims to shift focus on “Living Sustainably In Harmony with Nature”. Nothing else can describe a more appropriate approach for the road ahead. Think global, act local is a popular and pragmatic phrase when it comes to environment related actions on part of stakeholders. Keeping this in mind, our focus ought to shift to the preservation of our State’s natural gems; our forests, our beautiful hills, our lakes, rivers etc with emphasis on sustainable use of our local resources.
Mistakes and short-sighted decisions of stakeholders of the past, lack of awareness on part of the general public have all played their parts in the decline of the local natural ecosystem. But we cannot keep shifting the blame on what transpired in the past. As responsible stakeholders and concerned public, it is our responsibility and duty to step up and rectify the mistakes made by those before us; start acting collectively towards sustainable ways of living, in harmony with nature. This is the example we ought to set for those that will come after us. The drastic effects of climate change have slapped us on the face with visible signs; evidence which we are clearly feeling and seeing everyday. Nothing else can be a great wake up call to change our ways; to start being accountable on our part and mend our habits for the sake of something which is bigger than all of us combined.
The writer is an environmentalist and Chairman of Loktak Development Authority