Green is not always good. Green can be deceptive. The menacingly increasing broom cultivation across North-east has posed grave danger to the region’s bio-diversity. Brooms have replaced all kinds of vegetation in many low lying hills of the region. The people, obviously, have seen the quick money. Broom needs no maintenance, no regular sowing, clearing of weeds. Once cultivated, they just need to be harvested, again and again. The governments won’t intervene as hills are still green! And there is never-ending demand, although the source of such high demand is not clear. It’s certain that not all of them are going for sweeping the floors!
The broom bushes might be releasing the same amount of oxygen as did by the mixed forest that had to give way to the cash crop, on a vast scale. But it is sure that there is less number of living organisms there as used to be. These organisms, not comfortable with the broom atmosphere, have either perished or migrated to other safer places. But, thanks to rampaging human activities, there are very few safe places left for many forest dwellers (not human) on this earth. What we normally see is the replacement of forests by concretes and roads. The vast tracts of forest land converted into agriculture fields over the centuries are often undermined. Of course, humans cannot go hungry, so let others be! Knowingly or unknowingly, humans are doing grave injustice to other living organisms.
While there has been increased consensus and legal provisions about protection of forests in the plain areas, the hills of North-east still remained unprotected. Even the media don’t see the gradual change in the landscape as long as it is green! Be is broom or other mono cropping, the people in the hills are becoming increasingly dependent on cash rather than Mother Nature, which had always fed them. The increased dependence on one crop might boomerang any day, if there is a sudden drop in demand, which is quite possible, and which is not the case with mixed crops. A new trend of planting fruit saplings during tree plantation drives is welcome in this context. It’s high time the authorities sounded alert to the people about danger, bother environmental and economic, of broom cultivation and encourage them for mixed cropping with incentives.
(Published as editorial in The Meghalaya Guardian on July 1, 2016)