Climate change and flawed solution in Manipur

Jajo Themson (Environmental activist)
Nature and everything including bio-diversity can sustain itself without the help of human beings but human race cannot lead a pleasant life without them. Felling of some trees is not the main issue but huge changes of environment comes when there is huge exploitation of forests, streams, rivers, flora and fauna and other natural resources. The earth we live in is abnormal today due to destruction of natural environ- ment. This has led to threat of climate change resulting in uneven rainfall, extreme temperature, diminishing water bodies, melting of ice caps, rising of sea, increasing natural disasters such as pandemics, flood, drought, cyclone, earth quake, land sliding and other impacts like crops reduction, famine, hunger etc. Global War- ming is one of the worst consequences of shattered environment that mostly aggrandizes climate change crisis.
Un-thoughtful actions and greediness of human being constitutes the core reason of the climate issues at the same time it constitutes the ultimate solution. Any developmental initiative that gives dispropor- tionate and indiscriminate devastation of forest, land, river and natural resources deteriorates eco-system and jeopardized the entire environment coupled with threat of survival defines environmental injustice”. As such, environmental injustice is the key factor to climate crisis today.
Climate change strategies & action plan of Manipur
Manipur State attempts to address the climate change issues with eight mission mode in successive Five Years Plan ie 12th -2012-2017, Intermediate target-13th 5 year plan, 2017-2022 and long term target up to 2030. Its mission modes are, State Mission for Ecosystem, Biodiversity & Livelihood Sustainability, Water Resource, Sustainable Agricul- ture, Health, Forest resources conservation, En- hanced Energy Efficiency & Conservation, Urban Planning and sustainable Habitat and Climate Change Strategies-Knowledge and Information.
Developmental intervention & climate change
Project developers seem to be the chief agents to environmental injustice in the state that devastate environment aggrandizing the menace of climate change. Broad based destruction of forest and environment are mostly caused out of mega developmental interventions such as dam hydropower projects, extractive industries like mining, railway construction, roadway, oil drilling etc.
Against the State’s Mission, uncountable birds and honey bees were drowned and fish killing happens in Mapithel dam reservoir every year. Moreover, against the spirit of Sustainable Agriculture as a mission mode, 777 and 50,000 hectares of prime agricultural land were submerged in Mapithel dam and Loktak Multipurpose project. Thousand of affected people lost their livelihood in the said dam projects which are quite contradictory to the state Mission mode of livelihood and sustainable agriculture.
Dams are big factor of forest loss
In one instance, it is confirmed that building of large dam projects constitutes bad news for devastating vast tract of land, forest and river eco-system. It was recorded loss of forest @ 32 Sq. Km in Narmada dam, 595 hectares in Mapithel dam area, an annual loss of 591-660 sq km of forest in Tucurui dam in Brazil, Brazilian’s Amazon area have to loss over 10 million hectares of forest on dam construction. Still, only the proposed 1500 MW Tipaimukh dam in Manipur has potential destruction of 27,000 hectares of forest.
Dams enhance global warming
Debadityo Sinha, a conservation activist says, Hydropower is seen as clean only in terms of air pollution, but the ecological impact of any dam on a river is immense, irreparable and long lasting due to generation of both carbon dioxide and methane which are even more potent greenhouse gas, with over 80 times the warming power of CO2. As Claire Salisbury said, releasing methane, a greenhouse gas into the atmosphere is due to decomposition of forest, 25 times more powerful than carbon dioxide. A study published in Bio-science 2016 determined dams and reservoirs contribute to global warming @ 25 percent.
But in contradictory and in the false direction, the Manipur State plans of building about 32 dam projects under the Manipur Hydro-power Policy 2012. Among them, six large dam projects such as 1500 MW Tipaimukh dam, 190 MW Pabram dam, 67 MW Khongnem-Chakha dam, 60 MW Irang dam, 66 MW Loktak Downstream dam and 70 MW Nungleiband dam are at the priority.
While the United Nations envisaged raising 350 Million hectares of forest to limit the global rising temperature @1.5 degree centigrade by 2030, state’s target of forest resources as commercial property for profiteering is one of the biggest reasons of forest loss in the state. Timber logging as permissible trade in Manipur happens to be a false practice which needs timely correction.
Planned legalisation of Marijauna (Ganja) by state Government of Manipur seems to be a direct or indirect threat to forest areas endangering environment in the concerned regions. Thus, it is not exaggerating to term such action as a wrong solution for environment and climate change for it will inevitably lead to massive loss of forest. The same constitutes a kind of encouragement to exploit forest and resources.
Plan of Govt. to promote Oil Palm cultivation in the North-Eastern states of India including Manipur state happens to be immature step and a botch intervention as far as environment perspective is concerned. Quantum of details of environmental impacts for the proposed project is not assessed. Experience of Mizo- ram for such project need to be seriously learnt where multiple negative consequences have been caused. Damage of water table, water scarcity, extinction of birds from the farm region had been witnessed in Mizoram.
Still in another direction, the Directorate of Trade Commerce and Industries (DTCI), Govt. of Manipur had granted Mining Lease in August, 2018 for Rs. 50 crores. Series of MoUs are signed for chromium mining at Shingcha-Gamnom, Kamjong District, Kwatha Village in Tengnoupal district, mining Chromite from Shirui - Lunghar Villages of Ukhrul District and limestone quarry at Hundung and Mailiang villages for a period of 20 years. Remarkably, in the Feasibility Study Report prepared by Mining companies it is described that the entire mining lease areas at the abovementioned villages are devoid of forest or agricultural land which actually are thickly forested. It was a policy to exempt the mandatory forest clearance.
Failure of conducting a genuine Detailed Impacts Assessment (DIA) or Holistic Impacts Assessments (HIA) in the past and current mega developmental projects is one of the biggest blunder of the state Govt. or companies where damages of forest, land and river have been rampant.
(To be contd)