Take a leaf from sunderbans if you are serious

SK Singh *

According to the Oxford dictionary, learning is 'knowledge', 'scholarship', or even 'information'. We may generalize it by saying, "Learners work towards their goal and incorporate new knowledge, behaviors and skills that add to their range of learning experiences."

Learning is thus all the time a continuous process. We learn from teachers, from books; we can also learn without teachers, kind of, self-taught or learn still from others who have excelled. The two cannot be segregated.

With this experience of learning, we can think about learning in areas of 'plantation', 'greening areas,' 'afforestation', you give any name, from those who have excelled in the field.

We can copy from their experiences, their exposures, initially disappointing, tiring, but ultimately able to reap benefits, gain revelation from their experiences often laden with immense richness. This is learning and a good way of learning. All cannot be Einstein, there is only one; and the rest copy him. This is too learning.

The Minister of Forest, Environment and Climate Change, Th Biswajit is worried about plantation in all the catchment areas to save ecology as he pronounced last week. He was keeping in mind the deteriorating situation of Singda dam especially in maintaining water level for feeding Imphal. Earlier this concern was also expressed by O Ibobi when he was in the whelms of affairs as CM in 2013 almost twenty years back.

Ibobi on 18 April, 2013 directed the IFCD for massive plantation in and around the catchment areas of Singda with a massive 5 lakh trees. He was in a hurry for he set a target date for completion of plantation by end of May, 2013.

Did he succeed, obviously, no, a big no for that matter? For otherwise, Biswajit wouldn't taken the trouble of contemplating plantation of one crore saplings in all identified catchment areas that includes largely Singda in principle. Had there been a success rate of even at least 50% of 5 lakh trees planted in 2013, by now two and half lakh trees of maturity level of twenty years would have been stupendous.

The trees would have created a haven of greeneries all around the catchment areas. The natives of the hill ranges around Singda would breathe XXXXX. Most importantly, Singda would have smiled widest, brimmed with water all through and Imphal and around would face no scarcity of water as is today.

There should have been innumerable plantation exercises even before Ibobi came into picture twenty years before and now Biswajit this 2022. Why this failure, utter failure, if I can term it, in a state where trees grow easiest because of the typical variety of soil, the salubrious climate all combined?

What went wrong? While quantity assumes considerable importance, the quality of plantation is of paramount significance. What matters could be some semblance of a casual approach versus one meticulously planned in areas like, choice of varieties suitable to the terrain, raising nurseries 5 or six months earlier, preparation of sites for plantation, protection program and more importantly, post-plantation care.

All these parameters were definitely not gone into, a casual approach was adopted in that in a given time frame of two months, 5 laks trees to be planted and the like and we see how valuable time is lost with the dam turning moribund. What a costly loss, twenty years, 5 lakh saplings and we are back in square one now.

Can we dare now take a leaf from some success stories around in the areas of plantation or afforestation? Can we be prepared to learn from those who had succeeded even while we failed that too miserably and over the decades? On May 15, 2013 this writer published a note, "Singda plantation can take a leaf from Sunder bans.." I may quote a portion from it to drive home how they succeeded on the face of impossibilities, often desperate as against our failures. I quote,

"The Sunder bans of West Bengal's 24-Parganas district have long been at the receiving end of the constant and often torturous erosion by the sea water of the Bay of Bengal over several decades at a stretch. The improvised natives laced with utter ignorance, had been cutting down the mangroves and Sunder trees for years to clear land for agriculture and other livelihood purposes.

Little did they know that this denudation would cause more harm than good to their anyway, bleak future. This day they had realized that global warming and slowly rising sea levels have engulfed their habitat.

The arrival of Cyclone Aila and its devastating strike in 2009 which left over 150 people dead while over 40,000 residents swept away, on their already vulnerable existence, served as a WAKE UP CALL for the 50 lakh residents."

"While men folk under desperation have to migrate to bigger cities in search of livelihood, the women folk left home have taken up the onerous responsibility of saving the rapidly eroding costline by regenerating their soil, their agriculture land and their livelihood, the future of their children. Groups of women have formed WOMEN BRIGADE…… to coordinate MANGROVE PLANTATION-drives across vulnerable villages…."

"Its common to see women standing in knee-deep water nurseries set up nesr homes…., it takes around 40-45 days for the tender saplings to become sturdy and resistant enough before replanting in nearby river beds for another 25-20 days when they are constantly splashed with saline water from nearby sea, to acclimatize and ensure sea-water friendly to be able to survive on te coast all around. The entire process of nurturing the normal saplings, take around 2 to 3 months,….torturous to the housewives."

Draw the contrast. Plantation in ours is by and large, for celebration, like, Van Mahotsav, World Water Day, World Environment Day and of course, the one we are discussing now, the greening of catchment areas of Singda and the like. It's an annual function with touch of FUN, to be forgotten till woken up next year.

We do not, I repeat, do not, attach much of responsibility or commitment as is seen in the case of Sunder bans where plantation is a question of 'live and death', a desperate responsibility, every native of theirs cannot ignore.

We have readily plantable saplings, whereas they have to nurture the given saplings for another 2 to 3 months before actual plantation in torturous circumstances. Theirs what a rigor compared to our fun.

The DIFFERENCE, one is leisure while the other is desperate for a living.

* SK Singh wrote this article for
The writer can be contacted at kunjabiharis(AT)rediffmail(DOT)com
This article was posted on June 08, 2022.

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