Today environmental issues are known to everyone. We have knowingly or unknowingly contributed to the pollution of drains and rivers. The two rivers in Shillong, Umkhrah and Umshyrpi are examples of this. As a result the famous Umiam lake also becomes affected by all the wastes brought in by the rivers. This pollution is reported by the print media from time to time. Proposals to revive the rivers have been taken up but nothing has happened.
In the recent National seminar organized by St. Mary’s college on “Burning environmental issues: Risk to Biodiversity and Human Health with special reference to North East” many presenters spoke of the destruction of the rivers Umkhrah and Umshyrpi and the problem that arises from encroachments along the river banks and so on. Shillong is known to be a clean city, and it is assumed that its rivers are clean too. However, at the moment it is shameful that this is the same river Umkhrah that was famous once upon a time for its clean water.
The author’s recent study on common carp from the lake Umiam showed that all the tissues which were studied were damaged at the cellular level. This shows that the fishes there are unhealthy. If they are unhealthy, how can they reproduce? Sadly, they cannot speak and worse still they cannot move out of the lake. Of course fishes can adjust and adapt to the changes in their environment. But how long can they do that when the rivers Umkhrah and Umshyrpi unload their poisonous contents every day, is a burning question.
It is good to know that the Meghalaya Pollution Control Board will soon conduct a program to teach the people of the state not to irresponsibly dump wastes anywhere, but to segregate and make use of them after segregation. Moreover, NGOs like ICARE are determined to revive the dying rivers in Shillong. Now it is for the public of Shillong to work along with and support this cause. Unless we the people make up our minds to help protect the environment, nothing will work. We live on this earth together with other animals and plants. These organisms need us as we need them. When the rivers are polluted, the fishes and all the aquatic organisms cannot survive. When we consume fish living in highly polluted water, we could suffer from various diseases. When we cut down trees, the land becomes dry; there is shortage of water and rise in temperature. When we burn the hills and forest, we kill the trees and other animals living there. When the river banks are encroached upon, strong currents of water during summer will carve new ways which may cause casualties. So, whatever we do will affect us, if not now but for the generations to come. Let us jointly act now to live sustainably with nature.
Dr. Bashida Massar