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Why we need to save this river in Assam

By: Serlibon Timungpi

I was born and bought up in a village surrounded by rich biodiversity. I spent most of my childhood playing around the rivers and forest. I have a strong bonding with the wildlife around me.

Days go by and slowly, I have been witnessing the changes in biodiversity around. Due to the unending desire of us, humans and limited sources of income especially for the poor the destruction of the trees, forests, rivers, ecology as a whole has been rapidly taken place. Mining of sand, stone crashing, illegal timber logging, hunting are common threats in our area.

I have been listening to my father about the Amlong river in Assam where he goes for angling since my childhood days. I remember how he described about the incredible forest of the then Amlong, where he shares that there used to exist a very dense forest with huge ficus treess covered the Amlong river; even in a daytime also one can see fireflies in and around Amlong river and its forest. By this one can imagine how dense the forest must be. 

But, at present when one goes to the Amlong riverside, No one would ever believe what my father was talking about. As the forest around the Amlong River is completely gone by the act of us humans. The forest and land in our community belong to the community and are divided into community land, sacred groves, individual land, and reserve forest.

Earlier due to less population, the community land is available where the village headman enjoys the power and authority over it and he can share it in future if any individual wanted to be part or member of his village.  But at present due to the increase in population, the land is converted into individuals land.

Now, the main threats to our environment are monoculture or monocropping like rubber, areca nut, bamboo, teak, etc. which are planted by the individuals for sources of income.  No doubt economic development is also necessary for us and for some individuals planting such cash crops is the only way of income but the unlimited desire of human leads to convert such forest into their farmland. We have practicing shifting cultivation since our ancestral times and It used to be sustainable one.

As, our forefathers cultivated only once in a particular plot of land and shifted to another hill the next year leaving the previous field to rejuvenate and restore. But shifting cultivation at present days seems to be not sustainable anymore as, we used a particular plot of land for every year due to limited land.

Also, besides depleting nature, poor people becoming poorer and the rich become richer. The reason is that the poor people are selling off their land to the rich. Also, the planting of rubber needs a lot of investment and wages to nurture, which the poor cannot afford it. 

Due to the above-mentioned reasons, the Amlong river and the forest around are vanishing day by day. Fishing with dynamite, hunting, sand mining, timber logging is the main issue and threats the Amlong river is facing today and if the people not realized and take action whatever is remaining now, it will be gone soon.

The study on marine life and documentation and survey has not been done by anyone till now. Otter, masher fish, tortoise, eel are the known species found in the Amlong river. 

One of the major threats for marine life is the encroachment of humans to their habitats. As now almost all the nearby forest areas are been clear off for mono cultivation this will eventually have a negative impact on the river as well. The mining of sand, fishing with dynamites, poisoning the fish, making picnic spots are the major threats to the Amlong River.

I personally think that you and me, everyone has a contribution to it in some way or the other. It may not be a huge contribution but everyone is responsible for it. Thus, by living a sustainable life and caring for our animals, we can one day live in a better world.

Serlibon Timungpi

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