IMPHAL: In what many seem impossible in the first place, a 47-year-old man hailing from the Imphal West District of Manipur has gone against all odds to set an example for others to emulate.
Moirangthem Loiya from the Uripok Khaidem Leikai area of Imphal West has altogether transformed a hilly plot of land measuring 300 acres into a forest within a 20-year time frame.
The forest on the outskirts of Manipur's capital Imphal on the Langol Hill Range now exhibits more than 100 plant species with around 25 varieties of bamboo alone. Not only that, but the 300-acre forest is also inhabited by animal species like barking deer, porcupines and snakes.
Loiya who has been an ardent nature lover since his childhood days graduated from a Chennai college in the year 2000. After graduating, he had a strong urge to give back to mother nature soon after he visited the Koubru hill ranges in the state where large-scale deforestation was going on at that time.
This urge led him to a place called 'Maru Langol' (renamed 'Punshilok Maru' or 'Spring of Life') on the Imphal outskirts where he discovered that the area was lying barren due to wide-scale jhum cultivation. At that point, the idea to convert the barren land into a thick green forest with the involvement of sincere dedication and time struck him.
Loiya who also resides in the forest sometimes said, "The site served as a home for me for six years, as I lived in isolation in a hut. I planted bamboo, oak, jackfruit trees and teaks while nurturing the area previously destroyed by human activities."
"I would purchase saplings and plant them whenever possible," added Loiya.
With the plantation done ahead of the monsoons, the vegetative growth in the forest have always been thick, said Loiya.
So far, Manipur's Forest Department has supported Loiya in his endeavour.
However, the 47-year-old who is also the founder of Wild Life and Habitat Protection Society (WAHPS) devoted to preserving the Punshilok forest, is concerned about periodic illegal hunting and wildfires that pose as a threat to the environment and its sustainability.
Moirangthem Loiya who works at a pharmacy for a livelihood considers growing and nurturing the forest will remain his lifelong mission.
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