The All Loktak Lake Areas Fishermen’s Union, Manipur (ALLAFUM) said implementation of the Loktak Inland Waterways project will destroy the lake’s environment and biodiversity.
Opposing the implementation of the project in Loktak Lake, which is the largest freshwater lake in Northeast India, the farmers union claimed the government plan would go against the Manipur High Court’s order issued on August 7 last.
The High Court reportedly ordered that without due permission from the court, no new project or development programmes could be taken up by the authorities concerned, including the departments of the state and the Manipur State Wetlands Authority.
The lake, located at Moirang, 45 km away from Imphal, the state capital of Manipur.
The lake is famous for the phumdis (heterogeneous mass of vegetation, soil and organic matter at various stages of decomposition) floating over it.
The etymology of Loktak is – ‘Lok ‘means ‘stream’ and ‘tak’ means ‘the end’.
Keibul Lamjao National Park – which is the only floating national park in the world – located on the Loktak Lake.
ALLAFUM secretary O Rajen Singh told the media that they are not opposed to developmental works in Manipur but they can’t support implementation of the Loktak Lake Inland Waterways development project as “this would destroy the environment and biodiversity” of the lake.
The Keibul Lamjao National Park, located on the Loktak Lake is the last natural habitat of the “Sangai” (Rucervus eldii eldii), the dancing deer of Manipur.
It may be mentioned that Loktak Lake is one of the Ramsar sites and is covered under the Wetlands (Conservation and Management) Rules, 2010.
In 2014, the union ministry of environment, forest and climate change in 2014 asked the Loktak Development Authority (LDA) to take necessary action against use of motor boats in the lake as per the provisions contained in the Wetland Rules, 2010.
ALLAFUM secretary Singh has also informed that no public hearing has been conducted so far in connection with the Loktak Lake Inland Waterways project so that the common people can express their views regarding government plan.
The union ministry of shipping recently approved the Manipur government’s Rs 25.55 crore Loktak Inland Waterways project.
The farmers’ union termed the proposed project as a short sighted plan.
If the project is implemented, use of motor boats in the lake would cause harm to the aquatic lives in the lake, the union said.