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Fri, 20 Jul 2018

Northeast Today

Eco Tourism as Alternative to Timber Trade: an Initiative by Assam Rifles

Eco Tourism as Alternative to Timber Trade: an Initiative by Assam Rifles
May 14
21:31 2018

Far away from the hustle bustle of Imphal, lies a sleepy locality in Samtal Salient (Dingpi Region) called Sehlon. If one stands on top of the mountain and looks around, it is easy to be smitten by the beauty which engulfs the green hills all around. Myanmar’s Kabaw valley peeks deftly at its foothills, the sight of the entire Kabaw valley seems beautiful like a canvas painting lying next to the shores of a vast ocean with high tides.

The areas around the locality are inhabited by villagers who are relying on traditional ways of Jhoom cultivation, timber trade and hunting to earn a livelihood. Deforestation over the years has led to an adverse impact on the ecological balance of the region. Landslides have become an inseparable part of the day to day lives of these people. These landslides result in the road connectivity getting cut off for four months during monsoon season.

In view of these serious ramifications likely to befall upon this heavenly place, Sehlon battalion of Assam Rifles took an initiative to provide an awareness programme about the ill effects of timber cutting on environment and climate change. The programme was conducted at Tuitong village and is a baby step towards bringing eco tourism as an economic activity in a remote region. The programme was jointly conducted by 19 AR alongwith members of the Manipur Mountaineering and Trekking Association (MMTA), the State Disaster Response Force (SDRF) and the Forest Department. The entire programme consisted of a structured lecture followed by an audio visual clip on ecology and methods to preserve the environment. As part of an afforestation initiative, saplings were planted by Colonel Anand Bajpai, Commandant 19 AR and Mr Bijoy Kakchingtabam, President, MMTA and Mr Sanareimba, Deputy Range officer.

The programme started with Mr. W James of MMTA, who was part of the first team from North East to have successfully climbed Mount Everest, giving a lecture on how lack of oxygen had an adverse impact during the climb towards the summit. Then Mr Sanareimba, Deputy Range officer highlighted the importance of afforestation and the need to stop cutting timber from the forests of the region. A demo was also conducted by Mr H Khongnangthaba Singh and Mr O Inaocha, SDRF on disaster management and actions that must be followed by villagers in case of an eventuality of landslide.

Finally, Eco tourism and Adventure tourism was highlighted as the viable alternative for sustenance of the villagers in order to ensure that the malaise of timber trade is put to rest in the region. Mr Kakchingtabam, MMTA President also promised to come again to Tuitong with an aim of carrying out trekking and adventure sports in order to ensure that revenues come for the benefit of the poor local villagers. The villagers were also encouraged to create facilities so that people of Manipur state get this unique opportunity to come and witness the grandeur of Kabaw valley.

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