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Medical College at UmsawliMedical College at Umsawli

Editor,
Right from day one selection of the site at the Reid Chest Hospital, Mawprem, for establishment of a Medical College by the MUA-II government was a wrong move. The site is not at all suitable for establishment of Medical College for various reasons. First of all the area for the purpose is very small. Setting up a medical college cum hospital requires a sprawling  area to accommodate the college buildings, the laboratories and all other facilities such as hostels and dining halls for medical students, playgrounds, recreation centres, parking spaces, students’ and teachers’ recreations parks, teachers’ quarters, incinerator’s and dumping areas etc. Hence the place has to be reasonably huge and suitable for setting up a medical college cum hospital. Again, the proposed site at Mawprem is overcrowded and surrounded by slums, residential and commercial areas so much so that the whole place is almost choked to death. Moreover, there is only one very narrow road leading to the site which is impossible to expand because of the existing residential and commercial areas. Hence, the only alternative left for the present MDA government is to shift the site to Umsawli where the new Reid Chest Hospital is built by acquiring more land to meet the requirements of the Medical College. Moreover, the new site will facilitate proper planning to suit the standards of a Medical College. Besides, it will also be environmental friendly for the students, faculty members and members of the public.

Yours etc., Philip Marweiñ,Via-Email.

Tagging a Mahseer

Editor,

The recent move by the Government to give a tag to the indigenous Mahseer, a state fish, is a welcome step from the conservation point of view. The endemic Mahseer species, especially the endangered golden Mahseer or Kha lat in the local dialect are unique riverine species with their long slender and streamlined body shape and a unique black stripe running across the torso. Their golden glittering skin under the sun-piercing water distinguishes them from other fish species.  These species are adapted to living in the rough cloud foaming, fast flowing  turbulent incisive rapids and big boulder terrains of rivers originating from the Himalayas and flowing towards the north and northeastern India including the highly scarred and rugged plateau of Meghalaya which receives abundant monsoon.

These species are deeply respected and revered by many passionate sport anglers from all over the world for their tremendous powerful rod bending and screeching line taking, full fighting strength and lasting stamina. Anglers love this hair- raising and heart- pounding experience, when the Mahseer is hooked on a line because it is as if he is being pulled on one end of the rod by a powerful demonic nymph of the abyssal depth of the river. Mahseers have earned the nickname of water tiger for their stealth and strength in the water. These species are an apex predator and control the proliferation of other species in their environment. Their size determines how healthy a river is. The inconvenient truth is that the elusive Mahseer population is rapidly declining in all the big and small rivers of Meghalaya as was gathered from the anecdotal narratives of fisher- folks  of yester-years.  One would rarely encounter a wild Mahseer of a bigger size in the big rivers like the  Kynshi, Wah blei ,Wah Khri ,Umngot, Umiam -Umtrew river. Isn’t this a cause of  concern for us as a community? Their sudden disappearance from our rivers is due to indiscriminate and destructive fishing practices prevailing in our community. Poachers use every method to get a massive catch from the rivers irrespective of size and species. Greed has overshadowed everything. Dynamite use, large scale netting and widespread pouring of toxic pesticides by people with  a rapacious mentality would lead to a long term repercussion in pushing the species towards rapid decline and might push them to become unsustainable because they would not be able to reproduce their own kind unless protective efforts are initiated. The human correlation with rivers is somewhat akin to the fable of a hen that lays the golden egg. As long as we respect nature and use it judiciously it will shower bounty on us, but if greed supersedes then nature will become destructive.

 Tribals across the world are respected for their affinity to nature. Their forest conservation practices are borrowed in current environmental conservative practices. An angler armed only with a rod and reel and with a concern for nature would give second thoughts on doing anything that would permanently  damage the survival of the species. That’s why certain breeding seasons of the year should be banned for fishing in rivers and, big size species should be released back in the river to ensure sustainability. The Fisheries Department needs to create more awareness in villages all over the riparian areas where the river flows, about the dangerous fishing practices that are unsustainable. Creation of more riverine sanctuaries for wild Mahseer as practiced in the community led Wari fish sanctuary practices in Nengmendalgre, Rombagre in the stretches of the Simsang river and implementation of stricter fishing norms and practices depending on breeding season of the species are important measures.  Enhancement of forest cover along river stretch, promotion of angling sport tourism and eco- watching along the river to enhance income generation and to divert the destructive activities of villagers and taking them into confidence as stakeholder partners in conservation are also imperative. Humans have depended on rivers for sustenance and civilization flourishes on river banks. Similarly civilizations decline because of mismanagement of rivers. Taking this as a note the River monster man conservationist Jeremy Wade rightly said,  ‘The day, the big river monster species disappears from every river in the world it wouldn’t n be long for a catastrophe to befall humans.’

Yours etc.

, WB Syiemlieh,

Via email

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