[dropcap]C[/dropcap]ome September and the state capital of Nagaland, Kohima will be host to the “Indian Mountain Initiative – Sustainable Mountain Development Summit III”
The mandate of the IMI is to provide a platform for a united voice from mountain states to affect central development policies consider the sustainability of the fragile ecology and rich bio diversity of these areas.
The states include Ladakh, Sikkim, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand along with the common nomenclature of the Seven sister states of north east India.
This is perhaps the first major event in Nagaland on the increasingly engaging and important subject of “environment and sustainable” practices.The timing could not have come at a more opportune moment so also the themes which have not received their due attention. They include the subject of “Water”,”Forests, and “Agriculture”.
All of these topics are interdependent and in the context of Nagaland strongly linked with Article 371 (A) and the much debated clause (iv) about “the land and resources belonging to the people”. Unlike all of the other states Nagaland holds the unique position of 97% of the land owned by the community and 3% of the land by the state.
Visitors from across the eleven states and experts on the above mentioned subjects will arrive to this land of “unique culture” and identity so often heard of and read about in the media. What are they going to encounter.
Notwitstanding the roads which are for most part of year remain a challenge to navigate the sight of other developments is not going to be pretty.
To begin with as the delegates and participants drive up from Dimapur to Kohima they will witness firsthand the tell tale signs of the numerous landslips that have occurred on NH 39 owing to deforestation on the hilltops and the unabated scouring of the hill sides for rocks.
They will see rivers removed of rocks and instead of clear running water, the rush of muddy waters fed by the eroding soil of the deforested mountains.
And when they reach the capital the shortage of water will be obvious and so will the manner in which the denizens of the capital dispose their garbage.
A unique law in the constitution also means responsibility to what is inherited under the law. In this case it is the right to land and its resources.
There is a need to apply the law not only with a view or approach to right to extraction but also of maintenance and nurturing the environment for the future genartions. A big area for debate on this point is the continuing view held on the rights to “hunting” of the depleting wildlife.
Respect for nature and the link between mountains, forests and rivers has been inherent in the manner “sustainable farming” practiced and continues to be in many villages across the state. But these examples are far too less.
The approaching SDFN Summit III,will have many challenges to address but it will start the ball rolling on an issue that for far too long has been relegated to the bottom rung of priority in sustainable practices.
The future is in how we act in the present and by any standard the future is indeed bleak if the present approach towards development is to continue.