Thoubal,June.10: Indigenous and traditional knowledge of forest management and water harvesting need to be promoted in Manipur to prevent environmental issues like repeated flash floods, drying up of rivers, unseasonal rainfall and receding underground water reserve.
The statement was made during the one-day seminar on sustainable agro-forestry management by deputy director of Environment and Ecological Wing T Brajakumar who talked at length about fresh environmental challenges confronting the state linking many of them to the gradual disappearance of forest cover.
Deforestation has destroyed the catchment areas of rivers especially in hills. With no forest to retain and absorb water and hinders its flow, fast streams of unimpeded rain water is causing repeated flash floods in Manipur, he said.
Another problem in the hills is the drying up of streams due to which perennial rivers like Nambul, Imphal and Iril have become seasonal rivers, where there is no flow during winter, he stated. Places like Siroi in Ukhrul too which used to have abundant in water is experiencing water scarcity, Brajakumar mentioned emphasizing the need to focus on ways to store water in the hills. Spring sheds should be set up with due ownership and management by communities especially in hill areas and traditional methods of water management should be promoted, he added.
Brajakumar mentioned that there had been increased incidents of water shortages in ponds, rivers and wetlands due to fast receding underground water reserve and suggested that top water harvesting will be a viable solution.
He expressed his worry that after experiencing heavy rains in April and May, if the state experience more rain in July and August during the height of the agricultural season it will lead to unwanted consequences.
Chief conservator of forest Th Mahendra Pratap stressed on the need to take up forestation exercise by planting trees that generates moisture and incomes for the farmers like Jackfruit, olive, amla, guava etc.
The present challenges to the forest are shifting cultivation, burning of forest land and hunting practices, he said adding that the Indian Forest Act is very weak in imposing punishment to people who are guilty of destroying forests.