The fishing community of Karang which is India’s first cashless island located in the middle of Loktak lake in Manipur is still facing various forms of hardship due to climate change and factors relating to the commissioning of the Loktak Project in the eighties, according to the villager elders.
The villagers who buy everything except water in their daily life, also claimed to have spotted a new kind of unknown aquatic insects around the island in the recent past besides experiencing rise of mosquito population.
This was shared by some of the elders and local club functionaries of Karang, a picturesque lake island located in the middle of the Loktak which is the largest freshwater lake in north east India when a team of journalists working in different districts of Manipur visited the island last week.
The journalists’ team visited the Island which was named as the first cashless island in India by the Union Ministry of Electronic and Information technology under its Digital India Programme in January 2017, as part of two day media workshop on climate change reporting organized by the Khelen Thokchom Trust in association with the Directorate of Environment and Centre for Media Studies, Delhi.
“The environment around Karang has been changed and it directly and indirectly affects livelihood of the villagers after the commissioning of the Loktak Project,” says a village elder.
Sharing a similar sentiment, president S Kheda of Karang Island Development Organisation (KIDO) said that the normal income of the fishing community of the island has also been declined and affects the school education and subsequently the school drop out rate is on the rise in the last few years.
“So now the government needs to take up some development schemes for the fishing community of the island and others around the lake,”he said.Citing degradation of the lake environment and various forms of fishing activities in the lake, he said, adding, “Unlike the past, the villagers cannot earn much.” Earlier a fisherman usually earns around Rs 500 by selling fish and aquatic plants available in the lake on a daily basis.
In view of the development, the villagers particularly the younger generation of this picturesque lake island located about a two-hour drive from Imphal including boat ride expressed their desire to have certain development programmes including the skill development for the improvement their livelihood through eco-tourism activities and others over come the challenges which are being faced by the villagers. Karang is inhabited by about 3,000 villagers, according to KIDO.