Two amici curiae (friends of court), who were appointed by the High Court of Manipur, began consultations with all stakeholders for a report on the maintenance of Loktak lake, which is known as the largest freshwater lake in the Northeast.
Acting on a directive from the Supreme Court, the two-judge bench of the high court, comprising acting Chief Justice N. Kotiswar and Justice Kh. Nobin on February 5 appointed two lawyers, Kh. Samarjit and D. Julius Raimei, as amici curiae, directing them to submit a report on the development activities in Loktak lake by February 28.
The apex court, acting on a public interest litigation, had last year directed the high courts of states where Ramsar sites are located, to ensure proper maintenance of Ramsar Convention wetlands in their respective states. Loktak is one of the sites.
Before the two amici curiae visited Loktak lake on Sunday, which spreads across Thoubal, Imphal West and Bishnupur districts, the duo met officials of the Loktak Development Authority, a government agency responsible for maintenance of the lake.
The high court made the state’s water resources department and forest and environment department the respondents, among others.
The departments were asked to file their affidavits in three weeks.
Samarjit said the visit to the lake was part of its assignment of consulting “all stakeholders” for submission of a report to the high court by February 28. The amici curiae are running against time.
According to a The Telegraph report, the duo met All Loktak Area Fishermen Union secretary O. Rajen and other members of the union at the lake on Sunday to get a first-hand knowledge of the prevailing situation.
The union comprises the community of fishermen community dwelling in the lake in huts constructed on floating biomass (locally known as phumdi).
The two-member team also toured the lake to see the level of pollution and other issues.
There are 26 Ramsar sites in the country. Loktak is one of two in the Northeast. The other is Assam’s Deepor Beel.
After listening to the complaints of the fishermen, the team urged the union to submit in writing whatever they want to say about the existing problems in the lake and suggestions for proper maintenance and conservation of the lake.
The lawyers also appealed to conservationists, intellectuals and other stakeholders to submit their comments on the maintenance and measures to be taken to conserve the waterbody.