There is a boom in tree sapling plantation drives in the state in the recent past. The ministers, legislators, officials, police, central security forces, clubs, schools, groups and individuals are all doing it. The rationale behind it is that even though all of us are busy running around madly to complete our daily routines, each of us is aware of the perils of avoiding our commitment on the protection of our environment and restoration of our green cover and forest areas which serves us to get our token for living on earth – Oxygen. Simply put, we want to contribute in some way but at our own convenience to redeem ourselves from our guilt of ruining Mother earth which has served us all unconditionally without asking for much in return. Planting of sapling is convenient and a simple and appealing response to the complex problem of restoration of the environment. The rise in population of trees is the only solution that will save the birds and animals from disappearing, prevent soil erosion and incessant flooding, regulate temperature, and lessen the presence of harmful CO2 in the air, which ultimately will comprise an important part of the act of saving the environment. That everybody knows. Maybe, many of us are happy thinking after our little acts of tree planting that we are contributing in our little ways in saving the earth which is a primary duty we regard. But our good feelings cannot be too far from the truth because as much as we hate it, saving the environment needs more than merely planting a sapling but ensuring that it is growing into a mature tree. How much are the trees standing? Not much according to statistics and the power of our sight.
We need to take care of saplings until they become mature trees. Whoever does not have the visualization of growing a sapling to its maturity does not have the faintest idea of saving the environment and maybe even their motive is questionable. Planting a tree for just the camera to capture it or to mark an occasion without caring about its ultimate fate is misleading the campaign for restoration of the environment. Most of our VIPs are guilty of that charge and they commit the same crime year after year and are setting a bad example. A minister leads in planting hundreds of saplings on World Environment Day organized by Department A and he returns each time for the next four-five years to lead in planting the exact number of trees at the same place. Anybody on the lookout for sincerity and penchant for environmental achievement will lose respect for him, especially as the premises of the department where the event is held looks like a photo copy every single year. If all the stakeholders including elected leaders and department heads were sincere in increasing the green cover of the city where most propaganda events are staged then Imphal will not look as bare as it is now. Boldened by the casualness of the elected leaders almost all plantation drives conducted by assorted organisations have been reduced to trivial affairs whose validity is for till the cameraman makes his departure. When will we understand or who will teach us that reforestation or filling the previous forest area which now lies barren without trees is a serious business and a matter of our survival?
The views of a chief minister or other ministers on methods to save the environment are treated as priority and disseminated by the media to every corner and the images of them doing the ceremonial planting of saplings reaches every corner. They should be the torch bearers of this campaign. But we need a trueful leader to lead the herd and since all of them cannot be reliable, the environmental experts who possess the right credentials should be stationed at an appropriate position to scrutinize their every word and identify each of them as crusaders or mere poster boys who want to steal the headlines based on their vision and activities. To prove their worth as leaders the chief minister and ministers should lead in professing their honourable intent and measures for rectifications of issues on environmental damages that they find will be truly detrimental. For example, if Koubru mountain being those bare upsets one with the power to make a change then a corresponding decision to rectify the undesirable situation and appropriate reforestation steps are anticipated from his side. And if seasons change with the same landscape in sight without the forthcoming decision, then it will be right for a keen and honest environmentalist and the world to say he is a fraud. This is the same for all situations of insincere promises and claims on environment restoration by the powers that be. Such judgement will come up against them because reforestation is a real thing not a myth and with sincerity, proper knowledge, a firm commitment and correct decisions a natural forest environment can be resurrected anywhere without even having the need of planting a sapling.