Thursday, July 1, 2010

Cultural impact on environment stressed

While the close relation between the environment and the cultural lifestyle of the people can never be delinked, some of these cultural practices have had a deteriorating effect on the environment. Environmental degradation and its resultant change in the climate condition has also led to loss of many indigenous biodiversity species and invasion of exotic species in Manipur. According to environmentalist Dr Kh Shamungou, some of the cultural practices like burning of fat and oil in the temples, dumping of festival waste/leftover food, emerging of chemically treated idols of gods and goddesses in the water and sacred dips during auspicious days, etc have contributed to the degradation of our environment.

Death of fishes in river and sea have been reported largely after Durga Pujah festival because of the contamination of the water from the chemical used in beautification of the submerged idols, Dr Shamungou said, during an interaction session with media persons on the sidelines of capacity building programme on 'reporting climate change and environment issues' at Keibul Lamjao National Park on June 26. He went on to point out that degradation of our natural environment and its resultant change in the climate condition has also led to loss of many indigenous biodiversity species and invasion of exotic species in Manipur.  In his regard, Dr Kh Shamungou explained that Koyal (Eudynamys Scolopacea), a bird of the warm climate, has started appearing in Manipur. This shows that the climate and environment in Manipur has today changed to such an extent that Koyal can live comfortably here. Moreover, with festival like Kwak Tanba and flower named Kwaklei, the association of Crow (Kwak in Manipuri) with the cultural ethos of the Manipuri society is undeniable. But diminishing Crow population has led to a crisis for the proliferation of Heikreng, an important plant used during the funeral rites by the Meiteis. Crow feeds on the fruit of this plant and the seed of this plant can germinate only after it has been softened inside the stomach of the Crow. However, with the population of Crow diminishing on account of rampant use of chemical insecticide by the farmers, the fate of an important plant like Heikreng has been sealed. Hill area of Manipur is no exception to the loss and drifting pattern of biodiversity species from destructive human activities. 

Dr RK Ranjan, another environmental activist, who participated in the programme as a resource person, cited the instance of Siri birds stopped migrating to Siroy hill in Ukhrul district after the Champaka forests have been cleared. Siri lives on the fruits of Champaka trees and the flesh of these migratory birds is considered the choicest delicacy of the people in Siroy hill range that any young woman would give second thought over the prospect of marriage a man from another village, he added.

The day-long capacity building programme for the journalists on 'reporting climate change and environment issues' was organised by All Manipur Working Journalists' Union (AMWJU) and supported by Environment and Ecology Wing, Wildlife Wing (Forest and Environment), Government of Manipur and PANOS South Asia.
Courtesy: The Sangai Express 

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