September 24, 2022
N Munal Meitei
“Rivers are the arteries of our planet,” Mark Angelo
World Rivers Day is celebrated on the 4th Sunday 25th September 2022 and this year’s theme is ‘The importance of the river for biodiversity’. Now everyone should come together to strengthen the movement for rivers, water and its biodiversity. Together we can raise our voices to focus on the urgent needs and threats facing our rivers and stand up for hope and solidarity to find solutions to protect our rivers.
Each river is unique in terms of its flow patterns, the landscapes, the species it supports and the ecosystems associated with them. Rivers have no political borders; You connect the different nations with different languages, cultures and religions throughout your journey as a loving mother. Therefore, rivers are part of a global peace and protect our communities – fiercely and uncompromisingly. Rivers are the most beautiful objects in space.
Rivers are part of our community. We cannot separate our local river systems without ultimately affecting our own health and well-being. These problems are not just flow problems; they are issues for human communities and for future generations.
Rivers in every country face a range of threats and only our active involvement will ensure their health for years to come. Most rivers in Indian cities have changed their clothes with plastic. We are reminded of the rivers as the most pristine, picturesque and free-flowing streams in the world. Many of the world’s rivers are threatened by rapid urbanization, industrialization and increasing human pollution, catchment deforestation, water abstraction, drought, dams and invasive aquatic species.
Rivers are an integral part of our environment and vital for both humans and animals. There are also many communities that depend on rivers for survival, livelihood and subsistence. A new report says only a third of the world’s rivers are free-flowing, making it more critical than ever.
Rivers connect the oceans, valleys and mountains as a link for biodiversity. They play a very important role in the water cycle as they serve as drainage channels for surface water. Rivers drain nearly 75% of the Earth’s land surface and provide excellent habitat and food for many of Earth’s organisms. It goes without saying that rivers whose course is in pristine condition are never flooded.
Walking along river banks and spending time in nature helps relieve stress, anxiety and worry, and also lowers heart and breathing rates. The added benefit of living by a river is that the air surrounding the water contains extra oxygen and moisture, as well as a large dose of negative ions that boost our serotonin to absorb the oxygen. Rivers play a vital role in our well-being, happiness, and physical and mental health. Research has shown that being in and near the river or water can provide a long list of benefits for our mind and body, increasing overall well-being and happiness.
In Manipur, the Imphal river basin occupies 28.4%, the Barak valley 40.5% and the eastern catchment to Chindwin 31.1% with many river systems and their tributaries. The sparkling rivers of Manipur make up an important part of our topography. We can call Manipur a land of many rivers, and the beauty of these streams adorns the state even more. Some of the rivers in Manipur also form the natural borders at home and abroad. Rivers in Manipur are also an important source of food, irrigation and a center for adventure sports such as white water rafting. Rivers are considered sacred by the people of Manipur. So if we are proud to be a Manipuri then we should not throw garbage, dirt and plastic into our rivers or our river will be choked.
Among the rivers in Manipur, the most popular are Barak River and Manipur River. Manipur River has many major rivers with its tributaries like Iril River, Thoubal River, Sekmai River and Khuga River etc. Ithai Dam is really a blunt block except Chakpi River which a major change in our aquatic biodiversity. Almost 18 species of fish that require a saline life cycle have become extinct from our soil due to the dam. When a river is dammed, one of the most obvious changes is the disruption of ‘environmental flows’. Environmental flows can be restored to improve water quality and sediment deposition, meet the lifecycle needs of fish and wildlife, and restore livelihoods to riverine communities.
One of Manipur’s plights is that there is no snow-capped river to neutralize extreme conditions such as prolonged drought. Many of our rivers, particularly the Nambul and other rivers, continue to be plagued by pollution from urban and rural encroachment on the river banks – including infrastructure such as latrines, pig pens, buildings, roads, other business facilities containing plastics,
(to be continued)