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Climate Crisis, People, and the State

by Rinku Khumukcham
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The recent Amazon Rainforest disaster has brought back to global platform the issue of climate crisis and the survival of its indigenous people. Burning at a record rate continuously, it is an environmental catastrophe and should be a concern for all across the globe. It houses 10% of the planet’s diversity and helps in stabilizing the global climate. Lately, Manipur has also been experiencing soaring temperature with unbearable heat. According to a report from Environment Directorate of Manipur, Chandel district has recorded its highest 40 degree Celsius in the month of May. If it continues at this rate, it is likely that people may not be able to go outdoor in summer. 20 years back, May season’s favourite outfit for the people in the state of Manipur was either a jacket or a sweater. Today, we cannot even wear a full casual shirt or a pair of long pants. The mercury is rising and by next year, it could be worse. During late 90’s, when people, particularly the environmentalists, showed serious concern to the rise in the mercury, the temperature recorded in Manipur on April 14, 1999, was 36 degree Celsius. That was the hottest day. April normally was most of the pleasant days during 80s. The climatic condition was excellent. The temperature those days was much lower than 30 degree Celsius. Months with maximum temperature was during June and July. Everyone in their 40’s knows that the mercury level during the hottest month here in the state did not exceed 35 degree Celsius. As of today, there are no report of any death due to the rise of temperature, but for sure newspapers of tomorrow will have to reserve space for news about deaths because of the scorching heat.
Well, whom are we going to blame for this kind of alarming events? Is the drastic change in the climatic condition a natural phenomenon or is it because of the kind of crime committed by the human being? What is the role of the state and its policies in this crisis? – A matter everyone needs to ponder. Leaving aside the environmentalists, it has now become a fashion for the ministers and bureaucrats to talk about environment. A selfie while planting trees in their best outfit seems to be a matter of pride for them. According to environmentalists, the geographical character of our state is perhaps a boon. The climate of Imphal and other valley districts are maintained by the hills surrounding the valley. As for the Imphal Valley, it is the Langol Hill Range and the number of trees on it that has been controlling the carbon emission. The Khoubru Hill range, the Baruni etc. too are also important factors that control the climate of the state. Saying so, it was the number of wild trees that grow on those hills that actually controlled the climate. With no trees on the mentioned Hill ranges, they, too, will become helpless in maintaining the climatic condition of the state.
Is it the common men that has to be blamed for the cutting of the trees? Well, common man always struggle for life and they do whatever is available to feed themselves as well as their family. Those in the villages are left with no choice but to cut down the trees for earning their livelihood. For instance, the construction of Mapithel dam had destroyed large areas of fields, livelihood and settlement of various villagers, resulting in cutting of trees for survival. As for holding top job in the government and those ruling the state, they know that trees should be saved. Crore and crore of rupees have been spent to make plants grow at barren land of the state. They also know that until a proper planning is taken up by framing a policy for those who are depending on the forest product, the hills of the state, which had been controlling the Imphal valley, will look barren. So, it is definitely the government that is responsible for the kind of destruction of forest that has been taking place in the state.
Seizure of truck loads of woods is also a means to help in protecting the forest, but if it is done for photo session and publicity matters, then Manipur may perhaps become a desert-like state someday.
Government authority’s lack of commitment is reminded as the recent plantation of saplings by volunteer of Manipuri Students’ Federation at the peak of the Koubru Hill will make no sense.
Villagers of Koubru should be rehabilitated so that they themselves started protecting trees in the hill range. On how to change the mindset of the villagers, it is left upto the bureaucrats to think on it, otherwise, what is the use of spending so much public money for each of them in the form of paying salary and allowances?

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Imphal Times is a daily English newspaper published in Imphal and is registered with Registrar of the Newspapers for India with Regd. No MANENG/2013/51092


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