IMPHAL, May 18 - A group of youngsters working in diverse fields have been busy planting trees and clearing weed at a small patch of Imphal riverbank every Sunday to regain the lost green cover.With their continuous effort for the last few years, the 30 youngsters have developed Nongmai Shang, a beautiful resting place with greenery at Singjamei Bhagyabati Leikai riverbank of Imphal river which passes through the Imphal city.
The riverbank hangout had no name initially, but the team named it Nongmai Shang. According to Khomdram Gemon, name of the site was derived from the Manipuri word Nongmaijing (meaning Sunday) while Shang means hut.
“The basic idea of our initiative is restoration and conservation of greenery along the riverbank,” said Gemon who works in a mobile phone company. “We had a beautiful riverbank with full of greenery when we were young. But it disappeared during the development of a retaining wall sometime in 2007-08”, he added.
Phantom, another member of Nongmai Shang was returning home after his studies in Guwahati. He was a nature lover and was shocked to see the disappearance of the green cover. He became the first person to plant a number of trees particularly fruit bearing endemic plants/trees. The initiative was later expanded with the support and involvement of many likeminded youths – Akhi, Michael, Chandrakriti, Chetan, Lalu, Raj and others, besides local elders.
The team started to convert the riverbank measuring around 100 metres into a a small forest with their Sunday activities. The residents are now benefiting from the Nongmai Shang as the trees have started bearing fruits while the bamboo groves have matured.
“Fruits from the riverbank forest have been used in more than 50 feasts in the locality while the bamboos and other plants are being used in social rituals,” Gemon said.
Now with support from friends, family and elders, we want to regain the lost greenery and also to keep the riverbank clean, he added.