An Island Village Called Thanga

M. Rachandra Singh *

Thanga-Karang in Loktak Lake :: 17  April 2014  - Pix by Deepak Oinam

One method of locating a place on earth is through GOOGLE on the internet. Inside Loktak lake you will see a small hilly area surrounded by water in all direction almost in central area of Manipur and inside fresh water lake of Loktak. On west Sendra a tourist destination, water of Loktak on north (towards Ningthoukhong Bishnupur), Keibul Lamjao on the south Mayang Imphal in the east of Thanga Village.

According to 2011 census the population of Thanga constituency is 29935 with total voter of 20264 i.e 67% of the population is voter. One can say that 67% is a little higher than normal. Thanga constituency has 6 segments as (1) Kha-Thinungei (Chingmei, Chandpur, Moirangkhunou, keirenphabi, Thangrai Kangsoibi Khongbal)-10107 population. (2) Karang- 859, (3) Ithing-1832 (4) Thanga (Part 1, Part 2, Keibul)- 14,316 (5) Nongmaikhong-989 and (6) Khordak-932.

One can reach Thanga mainland by road from Moirang-Sendra Road from the western side. Moirang-Moirangkhunou-Keibul Road from south western side. These is no road connectivity between Karang and mainland Thanga. Boat on water is the only means of transport communication between Thanga Mainland and Karang. One can say any comment after knowing this old and new information that Karang is yet to have road connectivity in this highly developed world where Chinese could make 41 Km long suspension bridge (longest in world) on water / sea.

The main occupation of the villagers is fishing to earn bread. Loktak is the life of Thanga villagers as villagers catch fish from water of Loktak. People could settle in this Island because of natural fishes of Loktak. People catch fish from Keibul Lamjao area of National Park where Sangai survives.

The water of Loktak Lake is part of the lives of Thanga people. There is no drinking water system in this small Island. Underground water by drilling method is the only available means as of now. If a university student doing research about drinking water in village of Manipur, he/she can write in the thesis that since birth of this water bound village do not have proper scientific drinking water supply except few road side hoardings/signboards. One can imagine the disease that can attack the unhygienic lives of Thanga people where medical facilities are horrible. One villager said "I am now 62 years old, I don't know wether I can see drinking water from water supply scheme of the government in my leikai before I die".

One may lose life on way while travelling from home to nearest hospital in auto or pickup vans because the road conditions are beyond imagination. In normal travelling passengers suffered back pain or, body pain from travelling either from Thanga to Moirang or Thanga to Moirang via Keibul road being the same road condition. Development of roads and water supply could not reach to this beautiful island till now. I don't know the press, media shy away from asking questions like WHY? If not WHEN? These were no road connectivity between Thanga Part 1 and Thanga Part 2 except by boat on water. Off late bridge come up connecting thanga part 1 & part 2 by road. Now a bridge of Second World was type is hanging between these two parts. One will say that the present bridge is not enough for the heavy vehicle and volume of traffic for 15 thousand populated area. Wait and watch is the mantra for these people.

Fishing on Loktak lake is the main occupation of people of Thanga. Water of Loktak and inhabitants of Thanga have been very close relation since people settled down in Thanga. The relation is inseparable and people solely depend on Loktak, one way traffic. Edible vegetable growths namely PULEI, LOKLEI, KOMPREK, YELANG, CHINGKRUK etc are available on PHUMDIS of Loktak and Keibul Lamjao. For cooking food annual growths-different shrubs are plenty available on Phumdi. People use to collect these shrubs and used as firewood for cooking purposes. There were no restriction for this as they all are natural growths.

Heikak a fruit of water plant grows from bottom of Loktak lake is most popular edible item for the people of Thanga. YELI the stem of so called HEIKAK water plant is another vegetable item and have separate taste. During femine many people use to take HEIKAK fruit instead of rice. Heikak are plenty available in all parts of Loktak, Nangum and Takmu lakes. Heikak was alternate food of Thanga people for about 3-4 months in a year.

Thangjing is another waterplant available in all lakes of Thanga. Whole body of THANGJING its stem and fruit are tasty food item and very popular. These are available almost free in those days.

Thus PUEI, LOKLEI, KOMPREK, YELANG, CHENGKRUK, HEIKAK, THANGJING THARO etc are available in free as gift of nature over and above FISHES. Water of Loktak is the best home of beautiful migratory birds from unknown places of the world visited Loktak, Keibul and Nongum lakes. Bright light of full moon, the unpolluted breezes, fresh water waves, peculiar sound of birds attract any visitor to silent NATURE. If you lay down upright on the bottom of flat boat lookup clear sky, taking your boat by waves and breezes you will sleep or you will write romantic poems or stories.

Dal Lake of J & K, Karizanga of Assam, Hinan of China, Santosa of Singapore, Pattaya of Thailand can't challenge the calm and quite beauties of Loktak without artificial touch. The whole area is much nearer to nature though geographically isolated and politically and administratively neglected.

One time Moirang-Parva sung by late Thanga Mangoljao was very popular and really wanted by many. This was the only entertainment for people of Thanga. His songs was deeply related with the history and people. Yaithing Konu and Khoiyol Haoba a great romantic story was related with Karang (Thanga) Famous Moirang Parva mentioned about fishing by THOIBI in Loktak Lake and KHAMBA visited there.

In general people of Thanga are very very simple, innocent and adjustable to situations. People are glad to welcome visitors and serve them. These were no educational institutions in the beginning, off late schools come up. Boat on waterway was the only means for going and coming to Thanga from any part of Manipur even when late M. Koireng represent Thanga in Manipur Assembly as chief Minister of Manipur.

Living conditions were unsafe scientifically and medically there were no proper latrines, toilets over all conditions were unhygienic. Economically inhabitants were very poor and there were no other means of earning. It could be like Andaman & Nicobar Island where prisoner are sent on punishment. Everyone have to face innumerable difficulties hurdles, grievances, obstacles to see and known outside world. Survival for the fittest was only way.

With change of time, series of changes took place to the people Thanga. By birth people are poor and had no better means of earning except fish of lake and very little water plants that can earn money by selling. The first blow to the economy of the people of Thanga was opening of Keibul Lamjao Natinal Park to culture rare animal SANGAI. Policy and programmes so framed were against the life & habit of Thanga people. Big area was declared as prohibited zone and no one can go inside the vast area of Keibul Lamjao for fishing, collection of vegetable items and firewood's for cooking. It was a sudden blow to the economy of the people.

The second attack on the economy of Thanga area was Loktak Project (NHPC)for generation of electricity. The water level of Loktak lake changes and the lives of original fishes were attacked and vanished instead of increasing number. People can't catch fish as done in past. All water plants - HEIKAK, THANGJING, THARO, etc disappeared due to the change of water leveled. Fishing in Loktak, Takmu and NONG-GUM lakes become impossible. Many irrigable agricultural lands turns into lake. Loktak hydro electric project gave a death threat to the lives of people of Thanga.

The Third attack on the economy and physical lives of Thanga was Loktak Prevention Act are known to everybody. It was on order of eviction to leave Thanga due to restrictions. In short Thanga People can't touch water as simple as possible. Virtually people lost their natural right of living. The degree of the blow is best known to the people. Many photographs and stories of effected people of Thanga were printed, published with ground realities. Even GOD did not help suffered people of Thanga. All Lives surrendered to ALMIGHTY.

The fourth attack will be the local made SEKMAI in plastic bags. Unfortunately the SEKMAI YU attacks and wins many lives of Thanga. This local SEKMAI changes economy and society drastically. Sometimes there was political support instead of ban or control. All luck for everybody. Surprise report of using SEKMAI YU even by some woman of Thanga is on cards. The fifth attack will be very popular ZARDA with pan and many tobacco products. Beyond imaginations and without control from any section of society ZARDAPAN a killer and worst enemy of mankind attack Thanga.

Fashion or habit or imitating bad things, many women take ZARDAPAN day and night. Individuals are proud of themselves by counting number of pan consumed per day keeping extra stock at home in boxes. Addicted men and women now cant's live without it even if they know to face most dangerous killing disease CANCER. NO AMADA, NO POLICE, NO EXCISE, NO MEIRAPAIBI in this island called Thanga.

* M. Rachandra Singh wrote this article for
This article was posted on June 07, 2014.

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