Home » Manipur drowns while we pose in front of camera: World Environment Day’s hollow celebrations exposed

Manipur drowns while we pose in front of camera: World Environment Day’s hollow celebrations exposed

by Editorial Team
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Manipur drowns while we pose in front of camera: World Environment Day’s hollow celebrations exposed

World Environment Day was widely celebrated with mass tree plantations across the state, even as many parts of Manipur grappled with the devastating impacts of flooding.
Manipur’s recent submersion under devastating floodwaters is a brutal wake-up call, highlighting the catastrophic consequences of our collective negligence towards the environment. This tragedy serves as a glaring indictment of the superficial environmental practices that have become all too common, especially around symbolic occasions like World Environment Day. The wrath of nature, so vividly displayed in Manipur’s plight, underscores a fundamental truth: we cannot continue to pay lip service to environmental stewardship while engaging in destructive behaviors that undermine ecological balance.
The deforestation of the surrounding hills is a significant factor contributing to the current crisis. These hills, once lush with vegetation, acted as natural barriers, absorbing rainfall and preventing runoff. Their systematic destruction has left the land vulnerable, unable to cope with the deluge of water now overwhelming it. The destruction of wetlands, which play a crucial role in flood mitigation by acting as natural sponges, further exacerbates the situation. These vital ecosystems have been drained and built over in the name of development, leaving Manipur bereft of its natural defenses.
Each year, as World Environment Day approaches, public figures and officials are often seen planting saplings amidst a flurry of media coverage. These acts, while ostensibly promoting environmental awareness, are frequently little more than performative gestures. The cameras capture smiling faces and freshly planted trees, but once the press leaves, these initiatives often lack follow-through. The result is a façade of environmentalism that masks a deeper, systemic neglect.
The recent floods are a direct consequence of this superficial approach. Homes have been destroyed, lives upended, and communities displaced. Infrastructure lies in ruins, and the economic toll is staggering. This disaster was not an unavoidable act of nature but rather the foreseeable outcome of years of environmental mismanagement and neglect. It is a poignant reminder that nature’s balance cannot be ignored without dire consequences.
The root of the problem lies in our failure to genuinely commit to sustainable environmental practices. Planting a tree is a commendable act, but it is not enough if deforestation continues unabated elsewhere. True environmental stewardship requires comprehensive and consistent efforts to protect and restore natural landscapes. This means enforcing strict regulations against illegal logging, investing in reforestation projects, and ensuring that wetlands are preserved and rehabilitated.
Moreover, sustainable development must become a priority. This involves planning urban and rural development in ways that do not encroach on vital ecosystems. It requires investing in green infrastructure that can mitigate the impacts of extreme weather events. It also demands an educational shift towards greater environmental awareness and responsibility at all levels of society, from policymakers to the general public.
Accountability is crucial. Those who engage in environmental degradation must be held responsible for their actions. Governments and corporations must be transparent in their environmental practices and be held to stringent standards. This includes not only avoiding harm but actively contributing to the restoration and preservation of the environment.
Manipur’s suffering should not be in vain. It must serve as a powerful impetus for change, a clear signal that our current trajectory is unsustainable. We must move beyond performative acts and embrace genuine, sustained efforts to heal and protect our planet. The environment is not a backdrop for photo opportunities; it is the foundation of our existence.
The message from Manipur’s floods is unequivocal: respect the environment, or face the dire consequences of our negligence. It is a call to action for all of us to reevaluate our relationship with nature and to commit to meaningful, long-term solutions. The time for superficial gestures is over. It is time for real change, and that time is now.

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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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