TURA, Jan 6 - In a clear sign of climate change, Tura is witnessing the hottest winter making residents squirm as the thermometer refuses to dip.
While Tura has always been moderate through out the year in terms of temperatures, this year�s winter has shown ominous signs for the future of the region. The problems, most feel, are man-made.
�We have been crying against illegal tree felling as well as seeking a process to control jhumming. No one has taken things seriously and the results are now showing. We can expect worse things in the future if the current trends are not arrested,� said president of Centre for Environment Protection and Rural Development (CEPARD), an environment-based NGO.
Warm clothes that were earlier taken out of the closet are yet to be fully utilised as people await chiller days, something that was common from mid-December onwards. Rains just after Christmas day, however, brought some respite to people awaiting the winter chill. Things, however, returned to hot immediately after.
�If this is winter, we dread to think of what summer is going to be in Tura and surrounding areas. The other fear is that given the winter is hot, water will become scarce quicker,� said TR Sangma, a resident. Tura generally witnesses a shortage of water that begins towards the end of February, ending only after the advent of monsoon.
The Garo Hills region has been under tremendous pressure environmentally with prime forests in almost all districts under attack by smugglers and corrupt government officials working in tandem to smuggle out timber to neighbouring Assam.
�The entire world has been working on environmental conservation but Garo Hills seems stuck in inertia. It is not only about planting trees but protecting the trees as well. We have to all get together to stop this menace, or Garo Hills will soon face warm winters along with a huge scarcity of water during the dry season,� felt TG Momin, a member of CEPARD.
An old timer felt the current mercury levels were beyond anything he ever felt before. �We have been plentifully blessed but due to our own greed, we are killing our own Garo Hills,� he said.