Manipur being a seismic zone, several experts in the state stress the need to integrate disaster plans to tackle high intensity earthquakes, and suggest bamboo harvesting to replace heavy material with scientifically treated bamboo as earthquake proof construction material, as a part of disaster management plans.
Several bamboo experts are of the opinion that bamboo found abundantly in Northeast India region can be harvested for construction of earthquake proof houses and other types of construction. They opine the need to merge the technological aspect of bamboo harvesting and construction with the cultural aspect of the north-eastern region to produce a more traditional architecture that is earthquake proof for the region.
The felt need was raised during an international seminar on 'Bamboo plantation, hardening and bamboo as earthquake proof materials for construction' held in Imphal East district.
“Manipur being a seismic zone which lies on ‘very high-risk zone’ (V), we have to be careful about using heavy construction materials. We need to replace heavy materials with bamboo with different scientific treatment,” MoS External Affairs and Education, RK Ranjan said at the inaugural seminar Monday.
Apart from the geographical indication, Ranjan threw light on the cultural and spiritual significance associated with bamboo in Manipur. He recalled how bamboo was used by the villagers in the state and called for scientific interpretation of the local practice and knowledge system.
“Each and every homestead land was encircled by bamboo. We are using bamboo products. We have to observe categorically in different ways how bamboo is associated with our society and with civilization, culturally. From birth to death, we are associated with bamboo.
“In Manipur, there are certain villages of the Meitei community where young boys and girls take bath with the leaves of bamboo every Saturday in the month of March. It may be an act of protection from sin for the entire year.
Stressing the need to find out the scientific interpretation, Ranjan said, “In Manipur, folk song or folklore is associated with bamboo in the form of basi (bamboo flute)”.
Also pointing out the shift from bamboo to other materials for weddings or other ritual ceremonies, the minister said, “Manipuri civilization was based on bamboo. Horse cavalry used by Arambai was made of bamboo. That horse cavalry was used during war.
Considering the value and benefits of bamboo, Prime Minister Narendra Modi added bamboo under agricultural produce of the forest, he said.
Mentioning the tissue culture of bamboo, he said that bamboo generates highest oxygen, why not create an oxygen park at tissue culture side, it will be utilised as an economic resource.
Bamboo Science and Innovation president, World Bamboo Ambassador, Jean-Luc Kouyoumji said the seminar in Manipur is for the value change of bamboo.
“We are running out of everything, one day we will use only concrete to grow our future with bamboo, together we can structure bamboo value change. Carbon di-oxide captured by bamboo is something of a phenomenon in tropical areas particularly in seismic zones,” he added.
Sharing the unique culture of using bamboo in Myanmar and Manipur, Irrawady Bamboo Association, Mandalay, Myanmar, professor Aung Myint recalled the history of Manipur when bamboo was used to build a horse cavalry to transport war men in Myanmar.
“Development resulted in destruction of bamboo growth. However, there are several benefits of bamboo… So, considering its importance, let’s develop bamboo, we have to think globally. Manipur is lacking behind technologically so exchange is important, he said.
Senior Principal Scientist, CSIR-NEIST, Imphal, H Birkumar said bamboo growth in Manipur was declining fast, but it has started to regenerate. The bamboo colony has vanished from the state. The state was facing bamboo shortage due to climate change, soil fertility, etc.
“We cannot cultivate bamboo on roads, regeneration of bamboo is best on hill districts,” Birkumar said, adding that every part of bamboo can be used, some for medicinal purposes.
It may be mentioned that the amazing versatility of bamboo is no secret to green revolution visionaries. The plant also known as Green Gold or the poor man's timber found in Northeast India accounts for 65 per cent of India's total bamboo resources. The region is also highly vulnerable to earthquakes as evidenced by earthquakes of 2016, 2020 and 2022 in the recent past. There is a need to integrate disaster plans to tackle high intensity earthquakes, There is a need to merge the technological aspect of bamboo harvesting and construction with the cultural aspect of the north eastern region to produce a more traditional architecture building that is earthquake proof.
Based on these objectives, a two-day international seminar was organised by the Manipur University; CSIR-NEIST, Lamphelpat and Apunba Imagi Machading (AIMS), Manipur, supported by Babina Healthcare and Hospitality Industries Pvt Ltd and Public Works Department and Manipur State Bamboo Mission.
The inaugural session of the seminar was also attended by Lt. Gen (Retd.), Konsam Himalay, PVSM, UYSM, AVSM, YSM; I Meghachandra Singh, Joint Director, ICAR Research Complex for NEH Region, Lamphelpat; S Manikanta, Additional director (Retd.), Department of Health, government of Manipur; Professor Lal Bihari Singha, Department of Life Sciences, Manipur University.
Executive director Marjing Industries, Atom Sunil spoke on ‘Northeast Region: The Most Seismically Sensitive Zone in India’ and Sarda Maibam, Department of Earth Science, Manipur University spoke on ‘Seismic Site Classification and Liquefaction Analysis of Imphal City’.
Scientist B, Geosciences MARSAC, Planning Department, L Ramananda spoke on ‘Earthquake and Bamboo Resources in Manipur’ and assistant mission director of National Bamboo Mission, N Somorendro spoke on ‘Manipur State Bamboo Mission’.