By Salil Gewali
The past 100 years have witnessed the major injuries being inflicted upon the most beautiful planet in the solar system. We have in fact senselessly punctured mother earth in pursuit of our selfish ambition. We only felt important to respond to our base impulses of greed. We never gave a second thought to the consequences of our ceaseless exploitation of the earth’s crust. Has the deep rat-hole mining not already disfigured many parts of Jaintia Hills, and other places resulting in a number of tragedies in the recent past? Since prudence and greed are inversely proportional, we have totally lost our own sanity in the process. Are we — the so-called academically qualified people, not fully responsible for all the ecological mess and the change of climate now? We hardly can discriminate right from wrong. This present controversial plan of oil palm “monoculture” could be another recipe for disaster. It may go against the natural rhythm of biodiversity.
Let me draw an analogy for a layman’s understanding. What if we start eating “ghee only” as our principal food for a longer period of time? What will be its impact upon our bodies though it’s one of the very rich and nutritious milk products? It will certainly lead to various health complications, apart from indigestion. Even if we would be able to digest the ghee, the body will still be lacking many other minerals and vitamins leading to various malfunctions in our internal system. Nature requires us that we take varieties of “locally” produced vegetables, fruits, cereals as our balanced food for healthy living. Perhaps that is why bio-diversity is the fundamental characteristic in the “body of creation”. We have amazing verities of butterflies, we have wonderful honeybees, but we also have pesky houseflies, cockroaches and mosquitos. If the honeybees are so useful then why are there less or not apparently useful insects, some are very poisonous? Yes, there are a lot many complex things around than that meet our eyes.
The widespread plantation of oil palm at a whim will surely invite various natural catastrophes as pointed by scholars such as Toki Blah, Patricia Mukhim and others. A NEHU research scholar Clarissa Giri deeply laments how the extensive monoculture might upset the ecological balance. Needless to say, the infinite creation of GOD cannot be understood by our finite minds. However, we can heave a sigh of relief now that our upright member of parliament – Smt. Agatha Sangma has sent the letter to the Honourable Prime Minister citing the grave environmental fallout due to the extensive monoculture of palm oil in the Northeast. In one chorus all should lend support to Smt. Sangma. Moreover, this oil palm is not endemic to Northeast India either as a tea to Assam and Darjeeling. Unlike anything, it is going to adversely affect the terrestrial ecosystem, wildlife integrity and much more.
Here one strongly feels that we should not turn our deaf ears to what has been warned by our learned environmentalists. Let’s listen to the siren of climate change with utmost seriousness. Efforts in adopting every possible measure to chill down the surging heat of global warming will be the greatest gift to our kids. We should learn to make peace with the ecosystem, not with the wallet.
An Shillong-based writer and researcher, Salil Gewali is best known for his research-based work entitled ‘Great Minds on India’ which has earned worldwide appreciation. Translated into Twelve languages, his book has been prefaced by a world-acclaimed NASA Chief scientist – Dr. Kamlesh Lulla of Houston, USA.