The Covid-19 pandemic and the lockdown imposed to contain the spread of the virus have hit the residents of Champu Khangpok village in Manipur hard who are dependent on fishing from the Loktak Lake for their livelihood.
Loktak in Manipur is the largest freshwater lake in the north-eastern region of the country and is famed for its ‘phumdis’ or floating islands.
The lake offers the livelihood for around 30,000 people, and these floating islands are permanent homes of several fishing communities who have been conserving this unique wetland ecosystem.
The floating islands are a thick heterogeneous mass of vegetation, soil, and organic matter that looks like small lush green islands. On the Phumdis, the fishing community builds small thatched huts to live in.
About 240 fishing families from the Champu Khangpok village too are amongst those who were dependent on the lake.
However, the lockdown affected them greatly since they were stuck inside the lake on the floating islands and could neither sell their catch nor buy essentials as they used to do earlier due to the closing down of the nearby markets.
Nabachandra Oinam, a villager said most of them are fishermen and they have failed to sell fish in neighbouring markets due to lockdown restrictions.
“We are facing a lot of trouble due to this. The government should listen to our problems,” he said.