There will be drastic change in the environment and ecology of Manipur if the Ithai barrage is removed all of a sudden at the existing condition of the Loktak Lake.
So there should be proper consultation with the experts in diverse fields besides taking up regulation mechanism of the barrage to control the situation.
This observation was made by Former Vice Chancellor Prof H Tombi (retd) of Manipur University while addressing a day-long discussion on wildlife conservation at Karang, a lake Island located in the middle of Loktak Lake, 50 km south of Imphal in Bishnupur district on Monday, according to a report in Sanaleibak, an Imphal based local vernacular.
Ithai barrage (35ft high dam) across Manipur River with three spillway bays, is a major component of the Loktak multipurpose project taken up in 1983 to provide regulated storage to generate 105 MW of power and lift irrigation.
Otherwise there are chances of cutting down the lifespan of Loktak Lake which is termed a largest freshwater lake in North-east India all of a sudden as the depth of the lake has been comparatively reduced in the recent past, he added.
Earlier the average depth of the lake is said to be around 4/5 metres.
There will be more cultivable land if the barrage is removed but it is believed the water body area of the lake would be much smaller (from the existing size of 236 sq km), but the chances of survival of the lake will be in peril, the expert who had involved in documenting the atlas of the lake said.
Besides it will affect the normal life of the state animal – Sangai (brow antlered deer) found only at Keibul Lamjao, country’s only floating wildlife sanctuary on the southern side of the Lake and about 55km south of Imphal.
Mention may be made that many villagers around Loktak including Nongmaikhong and Khordak, on the southern part of the lake besides many NGOs and environmentalists have been demanding removal of Ithai barrage for the revival of sustainable livelihood in Manipur particularly the people living around the lake.
Even the State Chief Minister N Biren Singh has once reportedly urged the Prime Minister Narendra Modi to review the Loktak multipurpose project during their meeting in Guwahati in August 2017 to ease the frequent flooding in Manipur.