'COVID-19 has forced us to realise need for biodiversity conservation’

Remaining at homes with no work has made the public regain touch with the environment as most people have started working at the wasteland areas and turning them to vegetables and tree plantation farms.

Concerning the COVID-19 pandemic, many women in Manipur have expressed that the current crisis has compelled them to reflect on how to do a balancing act with nature to ensure a harmonious relationship with the state’s biodiversity.

On the occasion of this year’s World Environment Day which is to be observed with the theme “Celebrate Biodiversity”, it focuses on the efforts to save and protect the environment from different environmental challenges the world is facing today.

Several women who have started engaging themselves in the work of keeping vegetables gardens expressed their concern at the alarming rate of deforestation and land degradation in the state in recent years.

While interacting the Imphal Free Press, one Athokpam Dhaneshori, stated that there is an urgent need for action to safeguard the rich biodiversity of the state. The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has heightened the need to give focus on public health and conservation of nature, she said.

She along with a group of women have started a vegetables garden in a wasteland area at Yaralpat, Imphal East. They have started responding to the impact of climate change which has been further degraded by the greed of human beings.

“During this ongoing lockdown, we stay at homes in fear of the coronavirus. On the other hand, we are buying vegetables and other essentials at hiked prices as they are hard to find these days. However, with no work to do at home, most people have started planting them in their own kitchen garden and this has lessened the value of coriander,” said Mayengbam Babita.

“Even the simple ingredients to prepare an Iromba (a local dish) are hard to find these days,” she said.  Such a situation has forced the people to realise the importance of flora biodiversity of the state, she added.

Remaining at homes with no work has made the public regain touch with the environment as most people have started working at the wasteland areas and turning them to vegetables and tree plantation farms, stated Athokpam Ebemhal.

“The power to safeguard biodiversity is with us, and we need to act collectively. Individuals and co-operation can make small changes in daily habits without dramatically affecting lifestyle,” Ch Birmangol student of Ananda Academy said.

“It is very shocking to realise that I cannot breathe fresh air at Khairamband market's surrounding areas,” he said.  

In the past recent years, there has been an alarming increase of numbers of diesel autos, different vehicles which have polluted the air, he said. During the lockdown, the trees planted on road medians have become very clean and fresh, he added.  

“I never imagined such a thing would happen but this lockdown has made it. The way of life and living conditions has been altered. The better changes that have occurred during this lockdown such as health, cleaner air, water and food should remain the same in the future,” he added.

The World Environment Day is the most renowned day for environmental action. Since 1974, it has been celebrated every year on June 5; engaging over 190 governments, thousands of business, celebrities and citizens to focus their efforts on pressing environmental issues.

This year, protecting the environment has met with greater challenges though the celebration of the day focuses on the theme ‘It’s time for nature’. “However, locust attacks and global COVID-19 pandemic have reminded human beings that human health is linked to the planet’s health,” stated Phajaton, a volunteer of YFPHR.

The volunteers of Youth Forum for Protection of Human Rights (YFPHR) have geared up to launch a short video on destruction on biodiversity with the statement “where is our future?” The organisation has initiated a vegetable kitchen garden competition to give awareness on the essential vegetables the people can produce by themselves.

First Published:June 4, 2020, 10:53 p.m.