TODAY -

Worst possible condition of Loktak Lake
- The People's Chronicle Editorial :: October 22, 2021 -



RELEASE of four lakh-plus fish fingerlings by fisheries minister S Rajen and others into the Loktak Lake on Wednesday as a part of the annual celebration of Loktak Day could be construed as official acceptance of rapid degeneration of the largest freshwater lake in the northeast region.

The lake known for its floating masses of vegetation (phumdis), soil and organic matter in addition to being the natural habitat of state animal Sangai, has been the main source of livelihood for thousands of people settling in surrounding areas, state's indigenous fish production and food reserve for various species.

In 1990, Loktak was declared a "wetland of international importance" under the Ramsar Convention, an international treaty for the conservation and sustainable use of wetlands.

While it is heartening that two local fish farmers contributed 1.10 lakh fingerlings out of the 4,10,000 released into the Lake by Department of Fishery, environmentalists are unlikely to agree with minister Rajen's observation that the number of aquatic creatures are diminishing due to excessive fishing using different methods.

Rather, they are certain to infer that the government's failure to check flow of pollutants into the lake is the primary reason for degradation of condition of the water body. For the past many decades, successive governments had been drawing up plans to rejuvenate the lake, which is considered as the state's asset, but due to pathetic implementation of such projects there has been no sign of its improvement.

Notably, projects for removal of the floating biomass and dredging the lake's bed, to name a few, were dominated by misuse of financial assistance received from the Central government and the CBI probing the cases.

It's also an irony that after over three years India had hosted the global World Environment Day celebrations on June 5 in 2018, fingerlings had to be released at Loktak Lake to replenish the depleting stock or maintain the status as the state's largest natural source of fish.

The Fishery Department's initiative to increase the fish stock is worth appreciation but release of the fingerlings should be embarrassing for the environment wing of the government as artificially impregnating the lake naturally signifies serious disturbance to its ecology.

The lake's degeneration is also anti-thesis to union ministers and national political figures claiming that India has been demonstrating tremendous global leadership on climate change and the need to shift to a low carbon economy, and asserting that India will help galvanise greater action on pollution activities.

Accepted that the pace of global warming has been a challenge for all countries and communities and overshadowing efforts to reverse the trend. However, aggravation of the Loktak Lake's condition to the extent of the government releasing fingerlings suggests utter failure to meet even the basic goal.

Under the pretext of saving the lake, hundreds of fishers were chased out from their settlement on the floating biomass of the Loktak Lake some years back but the fact is that the government objective for clearing the massive water hyacinth from the water-body has only succeeded in depriving the locals of their only known source of income while condition of the lake continues to deteriorate as could be comprehended from decrease in the fish "population from its natural home.



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