He didn’t wait a single moment to save his world. Or wait for others to catch up. He came home to the desolation that mindless encroachment had wrought on the forests of the hillsides surrounding his village. He proved that just a handful of committed and concerned citizens can change the world.
He wasn’t a man to wait for things to happen, he was going to make it happen. Huge trees and forests always fascinated Moirangthem Loiya Ngamba even as a child. His memories are filled with visits to the lush green Koubru peak.
As he returned home to Uripok Khaidem Leikai in Imphal West after
his studies in 2000, he was devastated to see that the village of his childhood dreams had vanished. In its place were brown desolation and empty hillsides. He resolved to act rather than grieve and decided to do it alone. He began scouting for land in 2002.
He cared for his homeland an awful lot and he was going to see it get better; not let the greed and selfishness of humans strip his land of its beauty, its romance, and riches. Taking along a local guide, he immediately set out in search of land to regain the lost vision of his childhood.
He found it in the hill-ranges of Maru Longal. It was a distressing sight with not a tree in sight. The whole range had been felled or burned to make way for cultivation. He knew he had a fight on his hands, against apathy, greed, and indifference.
He resigned as a medical representative. Taking along the barest
of necessities, he began his self imposed exile. He built a tiny hut for
himself in Punshilok, the place which would one day fulfill his dreams. He began small with just 3 varieties of seeds. With the help of a few volunteers and friends, he cleared some land and planted them. Watered by a natural spring nearby, and tended lovingly, the forest of his dreams began to take shape.
The authorities were pleased with his initiative and have helped the
group by removing illegal encroachers in the forest area. Article 51-A(g) of the Constitution of India stipulates that it is the fundamental duty of every citizen to protect and improve the natural environment. Manipur’s Principal Chief Conservator of Forest, Kereilhouvi Angami is effusive of Loiya’s efforts and reiterated the commitment of the authorities to help people who protect, revive, and re-forest the land.
Manipur: Moirangthem Loiya from Uripok Khaidem Leikai in Imphal West, has replanted Punshilok forest in Langol hill-range in 17 years, says,”Today,forest area covers 300acres. 250 species of plants&25 species of bamboo grow here&its home to a variety of birds,snakes&wild animals” pic.twitter.com/PIP0GQXydM
— ANI (@ANI) August 30, 2019
Moirangthem Loiya and his group have set up the Wildlife and Habitat Protection Society to take care of this 300-acre lush green forest. Oak, magnolia, jack-fruit teak, and different varieties of bamboo are found throughout this forest along with other natural varieties. At present, there are 250 plant species and 25 varieties of bamboo.
Wildlife has slowly begun returning to the forest. It is now home to a variety of animals, birds, and snakes. The locals have appreciated the immediate effects with the normal temperature coming down considerably. The chirping of birds and the call of animals are their constant companions now.
Punshilok’s fame has spread beyond the forests and visitors from
other parts of India and even foreign countries visit this forest, inspired by the story of this dedicated crusader.
Loiya lives a simple life working at his brother’s pharmacy and
also does organic farming. He continues to expand his forest and thereby his dream to regain and retain the land of his childhood.
18 years and 300 acres later he can afford to rest but he still has a long way to go. For a ravaged land to return to its full bloom takes time. It takes time to regain the support of the land so devastatingly ravaged.
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It takes time to regain the trust of the animals driven away. Till then
Moirnagthem Loiya and his friends will keep fighting to regain another acre of the forest land for the future of mankind.
If you want to reach out to Loiya click here