TODAY -

Has the Loktak Lake mortgaged to Multinational Company?
- Imphal Times Editorial :: January 18 2019 -



January 8, 2019, a cabinet meeting’s first agenda was Amendment of Loktak Protection Act. There were also two other agenda, but the matter discussed on that cabinet meeting about the issue of Citizen Amendment Bill was not listed in the agenda but, picked up as a matter urgency.

What was the amendment that has decided by the state cabinet could not be known at the moment as, the matter has not been let public.

But there are certain things which worried the people particularly the environmentalist as talks are around that the government may mortgage the Loktak Lake to a multinational company to convert it into a world class resort.

Source with the Imphal Times said that a multinational company from outside the state has offered a sum of Rs. 500 crore for completion of the deal to construct world class resort in and around Sendra area and also in the middle of the Loktak lake.

For that the state government has to clean all the occupants of the Loktak Lake and recently a phone called to this media house by a resident of Sendra told that some people who identified themselves as government officials had ordered the owners of the Phumdi huts and those sheltering in the periphery of the Loktak lake to leave as they are going to take up developmental works.

In April, 2011, round 1000 people mostly women belonging to fishing families from the surroundings of the Loktak resolved to press the Government for scrapping controversial Manipur Loktak Lake (Protection) Act, 2006.

Many who discussed the Act threadbare highlighted fundamental flaws in the process of formulating the Act that directly affected the livelihoods of thousands of fishers’ population (90%) surviving by the Lake and stressed the importance of the rights of community participation in protecting the endangered ecology of Loktak Lake.

Many women leaders and men representing various fishers’ organizations expressed serious concerns on the intent of the Act which overlooked the socio-economic and cultural rights of the people and ecological relationships with the Lake.

The Act was term by many as a direct and immediate threat to the rights to daily livelihood

As of now, there is no official document to show whether the government is amending the act for the good of the people. But the source said that, the amended act may be another nightmare for the people of the Loktak lake.

Well Loktak lake is situated approximately 38 km south of Imphal (the capital of Manipur) in the Bishnupur district of Manipur. It acts as a natural reservoir for the rivers and streams of the valley and hills in the state.

Loktak is the largest freshwater inland natural reservoir in the eastern region of the country and has been identified as a major Indian wetland by the World Conservation Union (IUCN).

The rich wildlife/biodiversity of this area had earned it the status of a Ramsar site of international importance in 1990.

Loktak Lake also finds a mention in the Montreaux Record, which is a record of Ramsar sites ‘where changes in ecological character have occurred, are occurring or are likely to occur’.

The open waterbody provides a habitat to migratory water birds in winter months, starting from October up to March-April.

An area of around 5200 ha in the southern part of Loktak lake, inclusive of the Keibul Lamjao portion, was declared a wildlife sanctuary in 1954, but the area was later reduced to around 4050 ha and was declared a national park, called Keibul Lamjao National Park (KLNP), in 1977 under the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972, and the Manipur Wild Life (Protection) Rules, 1974.

In addition, the state forest department (wildlife wing) has proposed the adjoining area of Pumlen Pat (approx. 2200 ha, located on the south-eastern side of Loktak Lake and across the eastern bank of Manipur River) as a bird sanctuary.

Vegetation growth like tou, singnang and singmut in the park area provide shelter to various species of wildlife including the sangai or swamp deer, kharsa or hog deer, lamok (wild boar), sanamba (common otter), moirang sathibi achouba (large Indian civet), moirang sathibi macha (small Indian civet) and kak-thenggu (Malayan box turtle) among others.

There are approximately 55 suburban and rural settlements within and around Loktak Lake.

The predominant community is meitei (both Vaishnavite Hindus and orthodox meiteis) with a sparse population of meitei Christians and meitei Pangal (Manipuri Muslims) living in separate pockets around the lake. There is also a small population of kabui (rongmei tribe) in Toubul village near Bishnupur district headquarters on the western side of the lake.

It is estimated that around 30,000 people depend on fishing for their livelihood in the lake area.

The number of hutments constructed on the phumdis is estimated to be more than 1000, with a rough population of about 4000 individuals.

The total human population in Bishnupur district according to the 1991 census is 1,80,773 with a density of 364 persons per sq km.

Well if the source , about mortgaging the Loktak Lake than, Manipur is not only losing the gift of the mother nature but also livelihood of many thousands will be shattered.



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