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Sustainability Of Land Environment ‘” Where The Economy Of Manipur Lies?

Land is the first asset that God has given us. Expanding human requirements and economic activities are placing ever-increasing pressure on land resources, creating competition and conflicts, in some cases resulting in unproductive or destructive use of land resources. The economic status of a region occupies a major share in maintaining the quality of life or human development index. The economy of Manipur is largely based on land. Land available for the purpose of cultivation in Manipur is only 1, 48,572 hectares accounting for 6 per cent. The degraded land in Manipur has increased from 32.87 per cent of the agri-land in 1985 to 59.38 percent in 1994. In view of this alarming situation the Planning Commission has rightly projected a marked increase of poverty ratio of Manipur from 28.54 percent in 1999 – 2000 to 30.52 percent in 2006 – 07.

We all know the economy of Manipur has not much impact from the industrial sector. The land economy means water based economy because the land without water has no input on economic resources. Here we can remember the words of the President of India, APJ Abdul Kalam that land and water are the most important resources for agriculture. Let us not forget that our existing food security has been mainly brought about by the increase in irrigated agriculture.

Valley scenario:

Looking at the irrigation facilities of our agriculture fields of Manipur in the last 55 years of development, the State blessed by excellent agro-climate and water resources, has a very low productivity in terms of area when compared with other parts of the country. It is due to lack of irrigation facilities in the large portion of our agriculture fields as well as increase of soil acidity due to prolonged massive utilization of chemical pesticides & fertilizers. Majority of the farmers in the State still did not get the opportunity of crop rotation for enhancing soil fertility as well as economic security due to lack of irrigation facilities especially in the dry season.

So most of our agricultural lands have remained unused like waste lands for about six months in a year waiting for seasonal rain. It means we are not in a position to give work/job round the year to our farmers. On the other hand our economy depends on the farmers. Another negative impact of rural economy is that many of our agricultural lands are converted for non-agriculture purposes day by day. Where can we ask the system of governance for the sustainable economic utilization of land in Manipur? As you know economic development cannot be sustainable without good governance.

Sustainable economic utilization of land is based on two factors:

» Institutional factor

» Technical factor

Difficulties in overcoming those constraints are primarily due to institutional rather than technical factors. There is a need to strengthen institutional arrangements for land tenure, with the participation of civil society and local Governments in the delivery of decentralized land administration services. Land management techniques influence the whole environment. Sustainable land management practices are crucial for the health of all ecosystems. The quality of the soil, and the vegetation it supports, are critical for both biological diversity and primary production.

When we discuss the sustainability of land, we can not leave behind the soil fertility. The maximum availability of different nutrients depends on the pH value of the soil.

Nutrients pH

* N 6-8

* P 6.5-7.5

* K 6

* S above 6

* Ca 7-8.5

* Mg 7.5-8.5

* Fe 4-6

* Mn 5-6.5

* B 5-7

* Cu 5-7

* Zn 5-7

* Mo above 6.5

Hills scenarios:

Again look at the hills, God blessed our hills for a place of perennial woods. Let us take an example, if you throw a seed without any care, it will grow naturally when the rain comes. It shows that without much effort our hilly soil support to grow plants especially trees. This is not so in many parts of the world. Now our treasure of hills is not far to become empty. Shall we call the land as forest where there are no trees? There are large portion of area in Manipur which seems as forest where there are no trees (78.01 % of total geographical area of Manipur are classified as forests according to FSI, 2003) and they are not in the category of forests when we read and compare with the definition of forest in Oxford Dictionary.


The present form of land utilization for any propose by the people of Manipur is in the category of unorganized or non-planning without any scientific manner. It is largely utilized according to the owner’s desire without any vision and policy for the future sustainability. Poor land management can increase the frequency and severity of natural disasters such as floods, landslides, drought etc and poorly planned settlements and lack of emergency preparedness can greatly increase the damage done by disasters. An important cause of rural poverty is the unsustainable use of land resources. Due to undefined ownership, absence of legal rights, lack of community-based institutional frameworks and social relationships between groups are some of the points which hamper land management institutions in Manipur.

The failure of land management in rural Manipur can be determined by the fact that only 0.6 p.c. of the population gets any opportunity for rural employment. On the other hand, the 5.4 percent of urban employment is very high as compared with Delhi. Failure of rural employment increases the number of ecological-refugees (Eco-refugees means people who move or migrate from rural areas in search of economic livelihood or job in urban areas due to loss of rural economy and natural resources such as fertile land, forest, lakes, water resources, etc) in urban Manipur. An example is that the loss of Kharungpat, Lousipat, etc as well as forests in the hills increase the number of urban laborers or urban pairs or foot path hut dwellers very fast who are seen at the Khwairamband Bazar-Samumakhong, Singjamei, Lamphel, Hapta, North AOC areas. At one time their livelihood depended on the lakes, fertile soils, forests & other natural resources. Increase of jobless urban eco-refugees is also one of the result for increase in more social problems in the urban sectors of Manipur that is what we hear everyday about the loot-pat in the first column of news papers & headlines of TV.

Appeal to our people & politicians:

The land management decisions need to integrate economic, social and environmental goals. To optimize land productivity, land use should be planned and managed in an integrated manner, taking into account linkages between socio-economic development and environmental protection. Until and unless we utilize our land with a vision for sustainability and doing away with depending on imports to provide food for our people, outsiders will continue to occupy the advantage on our trade & political issues. Utilization of land in the form of sustainability to look out for the present and future generation along with scientific inputs to strengthen the economic status of the state are the primary responsibilities for all citizens of Manipur.

*The article is written by Irabanta Oinam

*The writer is a Jr. Scientific Officer, Environment & Ecology Office, Government of Manipur.

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