Imphal, July 6:
Recounting her boat ride at Nambul River, Mrs Ethel ST Grimwood in her book “My Three Years in Manipur” published in 1892 wrote Nambul River waterway as a short cut way to reach Loktak Lake.
“I don’t think I shall ever forget the first time I saw the lake”, Mrs. Grimwood wrote. Perhaps the Nambul River was extraordinarily clean those days as Mrs. Grimwood prefer boat ride to get a glimpse of Loktak Lake.
The story of Nambul waterway 128 years later is not the same. The condition of the River after Manipur restored its Independence keeps on deteriorating days after another. Until the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic, no persons including those in the Government’s Environment department had ever expected that people will someday use the river either for commercial transportation or for site seeing rides. Perhaps, the more than three-month-long lockdowns has somehow relieved the suffocating river making the dream for many to have a boat ride on the river possible.
On July 2, the All Manipur Working Journalists’ Union (AMWJU) in collaboration with Directorate of Environment and Climate Change, Government of Manipur organized a one-day media campaign on saving Nambul river on riding on modified traditional Manipuri Canoe on the river from Thong Nambonbi to Yangoi Karong area, which starts Loktak lake.
When we reached Yangon Karong area, we were not lucky enough to see the moon shedding a glorious silvery light on the broad expanse of waters, and making the islands, each one a small mountain in itself, that appear shadowy and far off as written by Mrs. Grimwood, as the sun was facing towards us in slanting manners.
Had Mrs. Grimwood wrote her “My Three Years in Manipur” in these days, she would have pen-pictured the murky banks with waste plastic bottles and waste garbage at all the Riverbanks starting from Thong Nambonbi to Yangoi Karong area by not leaving aside the stinking odour that may cause a more ferocious disease than COVID-19.
In olden days Nambul River is used as waterway transportation. The Nambul water start from Kangchup hill range around 3 small streams from Kangchup felled and meet at Iroisamba and start Nambul River. Besides waterways, the river water is mainly used by the peoples for irrigation and drinking. But today Nambul water is found unsuitable for human consumption. The river is hit by worse water pollution. People of the riverbank area need to keep the Nambul River clean for a healthy environment.
The portion between Iroishemba to Heirangoitong of the Nambul which is around 9.14 km long is the most polluted part as seen during the boat ride.
Experts say that the high pollution in Nambul River is due to urbanism. The urban area of this river from Iroisamba to Heirangoithong of the river bank both sides covers 12 Municipality ward. These 12 municipal ward areas contribute a lot of solid and liquid pollutants. This urban area has 72 drains falling to Nambul River so the BOD level and COD level are very high. The Nambul River is one of the main perennial sources of water for the Loktak Lake which is a designated Ramsar site since 23rd March 1990 under the Ramsar Convention, to which India is a state party.
Besides Manipur Government affords to combat water pollution, the peoples on the both sides, especially of urban area, should take extra care in shaping the river pollution free. The Nambul River, a key river in the maintenance of the micro climatic and ecological health of the Manipur Valley, is kept free of all encroachments by any human activities.