In the month of March last year, the Rejuvenation and Conservation of Nambul River Project was launched by Chief Minister of Manipur for treating the present sewage falling into the Nambul river which will enable the transformation of the heavily polluted river into a clean river, as well as protect the Loktak river from further pollution. With the onset of Covid-19 in the state, there has been an increased focus on keeping the city clean and free of garbage- at least in the initial stages of the pandemic in Manipur with the Imphal Municipal Corporation going into overdrive in an apparent attempt to make the city look spic and span. And the state government, in an attempt to showcase its intent on going through with the important project, has also flagged off a one-day Media Campaign “Save Nambul River” on July 2 this year with much fanfare to showcase the state of pollution of the river and to raise awareness about the efforts and steps the state government is planning to take up to address the issue. Yet another show of intent was carried out today with the Chief Minister inaugurating the actual work of planting saplings along the banks of Nambul river.
The continuing efforts of the state government to prevent and reverse the pollution of Nambul river which has been going on unchecked and unacknowledged for more than half a century is a heartening initiative and one which needs to be supported and applauded because the importance of Nambul river to the very existence of this state might have been lost to a lot of people, but that collective ignorance does not in any way reduce or lessen its significance. The fifty-four odd kilometers long river originating at Litan Waiphei of Kangchup hill range at the confluence of Imphal West, Tamenglong and Senapati districts and running through the heart of Imphal city to empty into the Loktak lake which is the largest freshwater lake in the North eastern part of India and a lifeline for the state has been intrinsically associated with the history of the state politically, sociologically, economically and culturally. Add to it the fact that apart from the various surrounding tertiary hills feeding Loktak which is an intermonte lake, Nambul river is still the most important source of water for the lake, and the picture becomes more prominent, besides the effect this river has on the ecology and environment of the lake.
According to a research paper published in Academic Journals (Vol. 5(6), pp. 321-327, June 2013) entitled ‘Influence of Nambul River on the quality of fresh water in Loktak lake’, a population of 0.28 million living within Nambul river catchments generates 31,207 cubic metres of sewage daily. With rapid urbanization, industrialization and increasing population of the city the river gets polluted day by day leading to the increase of pollution levels of Loktak lake. The pollution of the lake is also being increased day by day due to the use of excessive amount of fertilizers, pesticides, insecticides and fungicides by the farmers, cultivators and people around the lake. Trace metals and their compounds are the non-degradable pollutants and they cannot be destroyed. Again, with the consumption of fishes and other edible plants collected from this lake (if it is severely polluted), the people may risk from many diseases due to the food chain.
For effective implementation and fruitful conclusion of the project, more than token display for the benefit of the public will be required. Laws and regulations which could give bite to the efforts for curbing pollution has to be put in place, and more importantly, implemented strictly. Provisions for proper disposal and recycling of wastes should be made as well as conversion of compostable kitchen wastes to organic manure at homes should be promoted with certain incentives to reduce garbage. For all the declarations and intentions, until a proper and well-planned system of waste-management is made functional and backed by necessary regulations, no amount of projects and schemes will bring the desired results. The state government should continue with the present level of enthusiasm but with the added requisites for a truly outstanding and remarkable achievement for everyone in the state.