The road to Mount Koubru
IFP Editorial: Now that the chief minister himself is taking the lead in rejuvenation of forest cover in the Koubru range, the Forest department should start thinking in terms of replicating the Spring Water and Forest Conservation project in a larger perspective, with Koubru and other mountain ranges in mind.
It is good to hear that the Chief Minister N Biren himself is going to Mount Koubru to kick-start a tree plantation drive there. He announced this while virtually inaugurating a project named ‘Spring Water Harvesting, Sustainable Water and Forest Conservation’ at Heingang, Kameng and Lamdeng from the Chief Minister’s Secretariat. The project is being taken up by the Central Forest Division, Forest department, with funding from ICICI Foundation for Inclusive Growth. The project idea was envisaged by the Forest Department after finding success in its interventional measures to improve the catchment/watershed areas in the state and on seeing the improving general health of Langol Reserve Forest on the western part through various state and centrally sponsored schemes. It has been tapping spring water emanating due to appropriate recharge by existing forest and providing drinking water to the local people especially at Lamdeng area through two units throughout the year. Experiencing the overwhelming response from the local people towards protection of forest after the installation of the spring water harvesting units at the Langol Reserve Forest, the Forest Department approached the ICICI Foundation to support the venture under CSR. Forest officials said, in areas where such units are installed, occurrence of forest fire, illegal felling and excavation of hill earth are almost nil. Such situations can be the most appropriate example for sustainable and inclusive forest management practices. Good ideas and practices need to be appreciated.
This year’s theme of World Environment Day is ‘Reimagine. Recreate. Restore.’ as this year marks the beginning of the United Nations Decade on Ecosystem Restoration. Ecosystem restoration means preventing, halting and reversing this damage – to go from exploiting nature to healing it.
Only with the restoration of our ecosystems can we enhance people’s livelihoods, counteract climate change and stop the collapse of biodiversity. In Manipur, we are overwhelmed by multi-faceted issues of loss of forest cover and bare mountain ranges, diminishing wetland systems and polluted rivers, indiscriminate use of plastic use and wastage, and of course the vanishing water bodies in urban areas. Loktak, as everyone knows, had changed to such a great extent ever since the coming of Loktak project and Ithai Barrage. Its ecosystem has been depleted so much that it is not recognisable with the Loktak of yesteryears. Our forefathers taught us that Loktak is our Mother and Mount Koubru our Father.
In line with the theme of this year’s World Environment Day, we once again like to bring everyone’s focus on the vanishing forest cover on Koubru range, a result of human encroachment and widespread destruction of forest cover. Not so long ago, the Chief Minister N Biren Singh came down heavily on the Forest department officials for the widespread deforestation in the sacred Koubru range. He had instructed forest officials to go and see for themselves the state of degradation and take up appropriate measures for rejuvenating forest cover in Koubru and other hill ranges for the sake of future generations and also appealed to the people inhabiting the general area to cooperate with forest officials. Mountain forests perform a protective function against natural hazards, so that when the forest cover is lost and the land is left unprotected, runoff and soil erosion increase, provoking landslides, avalanches and floods, to the detriment of villages, transport systems, human infrastructures and of the food security of vulnerable populations. The reporters of Imphal Free Press have been regularly reporting on issues of environmental degradation, vanishing wetlands, depleting forest cover and of course drying up of spring water in the hills and mountains of the state. Now that the chief minister himself is taking the lead in rejuvenation of forest cover in the Koubru range, the Forest department should start thinking in terms of replicating the Spring Water and Forest Conservation project in a larger perspective, with Koubru and other mountain ranges in mind.