Manipur and water crisis

Finally, rain is here. After weeks and months of waiting eagerly, a slight shower has started wetting the parched lands. But it is too early to say whether the current spell of rainfall will be enough to tide over the water crisis besieging the State at present. The fact that Manipur is facing water crisis in the month of March in spite of receiving average annual rainfall of 1250 mm to 2700 mm points to abject policy failures and extremely inadequate or dysfunctional infrastructure. Manipur and water crisis or drought sound rather ironical given the fact that the whole North East region generally receives abundant and often superfluous rainfall every year. No doubt, climatic conditions of the whole planet are undergoing drastic changes everywhere. Mankind is both the principal force and main culprit of this global climate change. But all living creatures are victims of this human-induced climate change. A number of animal species have already disappeared from the planet on account of the global climate change accelerated a million times by anthropogenic activities. We, mankind, are responsible for the global warming and adverse weather conditions seen everywhere across the globe and it is our responsibility to remedy this global issue, even if we cannot totally undo what mankind had done in the past couple of centuries. One primary reason for the fast degrading environment is mankind’s economic concerns and prioritisation of economic agenda over environmental concerns by almost all the countries. In spite of the ever rising temperature, the imminent threats of melting Arctic glaciers and subsequent rise of sea levels, all the international environmental summits including the latest one could not come up with any effective mechanism to counter environmental degradation.  Economic activity, both production and consumption, relates to the environment in two fundamental ways — we draw resources (both renewable and non-renewable) from the environment to produce goods and services, and we emit wastes into the environment in the process of both production and consumption.
Just imagine what would happen to the mankind’s industrial civilization if the supply of natural resources is constantly diminished relative to demand. The answer is not far to seek.  Our prosperity will be threatened. And the solution is obvious. We must strive to obtain more goods and services from our finite supply of non-renewable resources, and we must protect — from both extraction and waste impacts — the natural productivity of our forests, fisheries, agricultural and range land, and other renewable resources. It is also obvious that our continued prosperity depends on protecting both extractive potential and waste absorption capacity. Manipur, though a very tiny State, is also contributing its share to the global climate change and one activity which constitutes the lion’s share of the State’s contribution to global climate change is over-exploitation of forest resources. It is indeed a tragedy that some people have been destroying vast tracts of forests to make space for poppy plantation. Ignorance, economic compulsion and now greed are behind unrestrained exploitation of forest resources. As stated earlier, our people must have a clear idea about the roles of forest in environmental protection viz; retention of underground water, absorption of harmful carbon emission, balancing seasonal rainfall, prevention of landslides et al. The carbon absorptive capacity of our forests has its economic value. We need to upgrade and expand our understanding of forest resources. They are indeed priceless. We must remember that the water crisis seen today would recur in the coming years too and it may grow worse if we continue over-exploitation of our forest resources. It’s time the Government pulls up its sleeves and sees that all forests are protected. Yes, a large number of people in Manipur depend on forests for their livelihood and they cannot be cut off from their forest resources. At the same time, the State as well as the citizens need to ensure that forest resources are exploited sustainably, not over-exploited.