‘Loktak faces serious threat’

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Imphal: Loktake lake, the largest fresh water lake in North-eastern India, is under serious threat from anthropogenic activities such as encroachment, pollution, adverse conditions due to changes in water levels, and various developmental activities in and around the lake.

This was stated by Loktak Development Authority (LDA) chairman M. Asnikumar Singh while addressing the inaugural session of International Conference on ‘Environmental Policy Discourses since the 1960s: Politics, Problems and Narratives of Environment Policies in Europe and Asia at Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi

The conference was organised jointly by Centre for Study of Social Systems, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi; Institute for Governance, Policies & Politics, New Delhi; German Research Foundation and Justus Liebig University, Germany.

“We have reached a point in our history where we cannot take a back seat and let others decide on the fate of the iconic Loktak lake which is regarded as the cradle of Manipur’s civilization,” Asnikumar said.

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Manipur government is determined to make Loktak an iconic wetland in the entire world. Under the guidance of chief minister N. Biren Singh, LDA is moving ahead with community participation, research, policies and conservation activities to fulfil the mandate of conservation and sustainable management of the lake, he added.

LDA has constituted an Expert Advisory Committee to address the issues related to the fast-changing ecological status and their impact on the socio-economic condition of the community dependent on them, led by Prof (Dr.) Rajiv Sinha of IIT, Kanpur and its report will be submitted soon, he said.

The state government is also working on a long-term plan to conserve and preserve the lake. It has the Asian Development Bank with a detailed project report to rejuvenate the lake’s ecology and improve the livelihood of those dependent on the lake for sustenance. The state government has already approved the short-term plan of WISE use of Loktak lake and is awaiting approval from the ministry of Environment, he added.

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Regarding the prevention of encroachers in the lake, he informed that an empowered committee, chaired by the state’s chief minister and constituted by senior government officials and various heads of departments has already been formed to notify and demarcate the lake’s boundary, te LDA chairman informed.

LDA has also been determined to safeguard the livelihood of the fishing community. It has suggested the state government to regulate and come up with a fishing policy to check on the dwindling fish population and overfishing in the lake, he said.

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Maintaining that construction of floating homestays would provide ample employment opportunities to our youth, promote eco-tourism in the state and decrease the dependency on the lake for sustenance, he reiterated that the government is setting up guidelines for the construction of floating homestays that reflect our cultural heritage and are environment-friendly.

The chairman expressed that with a strong sense of hope and optimism, we can carry out the work of conservation and management of Loktak Lake and its associated wetlands.

The conference was attended by more than 300 delegates including policymakers, intellectuals, academicians, research scholars from different countries. Various delegates from India and abroad showed keen interest in different steps taken up by the state government to conserve Loktak lake and expressed their desire to share ideas and thoughts regarding the same.

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