Pothashang News Service

Imphal, January 31, 2018: The fishing community of Loktak represented by the All Loktak Lake Area Fishermen Union, Manipur (ALLFUM) would like has shown their gratitude to the state government for proactively taking up the crucial issue of Loktak Lake.

ALLFUM welcome the response of the government that there is an increasing recognition to the institutional and legal inadequacies in managing the lake environment and the people who inhabit the lake.

Loktak Development Authority (LDA) which was established in 1986, is the only ‘institution’ that handles the issue of the Loktak is lacking in expertise such as well qualified limnologist or hydrologist, nor is there any representation of local stakeholders in its composition. What has happened over the years since its formation is the inadequacy and degradation of this institution and hence a sharp degradation of the lake itself. There need a holistic transformation that is required in order to address the problems of Loktak we as well as the wetlands of Manipur, said Oinam Rajen, ALLAFUM in a press statement.

It is time now the state government has moved to disband LDA and convert into the State Wetlands Authority under the Wetlands (Conservation and Management) Rules of 2017. However, there are severe problems around this formation. LDA cannot be just renamed and become an adequate body that can manage all the wetlands in the state. LDA has an inherent crisis of lack of local representation in itsstructure and lack of expertise in its composition. It is because of this inherent flaw that has resulted into far reaching degradation of the lake, encroachment by vested parties. We have witnessed LDA in direct confrontation with local fishing families, we have also seen how the lake has been dissected by building roads within the lake itself. We would also like to call upon the government to bring all the lake area under one umbrella. This means that the current diversion of Keibul Lamjao National Park (KLNP) from Loktak and which is being kept under the Forest Department must be brought under the Wetlands Authority as it is a wetland too.

While also appreciating government again that the draconian Loktak Protection Act of 2006 will be reviewed, and yet again ALLAFUM would like to inform the government that a hurried process cannot yield the desired result. We are fully aware that the current Act is draconian in nature, it is anti-people and does not fully understand the workings of wetlands. We call for an elaborate consultation process and there are already some experiences since 2006 after the act was enacted. There is surely a conflict with local people who live inside and around the lake and this must be addressed comprehensively. The Act or the new Bill must be translated into Manipuri language for consultation and at least six months to one year consultation and inputs must be called by email or by post. Hence, this new Bill must not be introduced in this coming Assembly Session.

Additionally, if the government is moving for a State Wetlands Authority then it is logical that there should be Wetlands Protection Act which is separated from the Manipur Conservation of Paddy Land and Wetland Act of 2014. Given the significance of Loktak, special protection provisions can be part of this Act. In all these, the close association of local people with wetlands must be adequately reflected, said the statement.

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