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Amend Loktak Act: BJP

IMPHAL, Mar 13: BJP vice-president and ex-MLA Salam Ibohal has demanded that the Loktak Lake Protection Act 2006 should be amended within the ongoing Assembly session. Speaking to media persons at BJP office today, Salam Ibohal who is also the spokesperson of BJP State unit said that eviction of phumdi dwellers should be stopped immediately.

Necessary measures should be taken up to avoid destruction of fishing equipment like nets, traps etc before deploying hovercrafts, Ibohal said.

Observing that implementation of the Loktak Lake Protection Act 2006 has evoked strong protest from fishermen who are dependent on Loktak Lake; Salam Ibohal asserted that the plight of fishermen should be put up in the ongoing Assembly session in a meaningful manner.

Recalling that a team of BJP National leaders including MP Vijaya Chakraborty and M Karit Somaya had inspected the condition of Loktak Lake on January 28, Ibohal said that a memorandum has been submitted to the President of India highlighting the woes of Loktak fishermen and scams centered on the lake. Loktak Lake is 23.621 sq Kms big and it is bound by Nambol Uttrapat in the North, Thinungei, Toubul and Ningthoukhong in the East and Ithai Wapokpi in the South and people of these places are dependent on Loktak Lake for their livelihood.

But these several restrictions have been imposed. On account of the Loktak Protection Act, traditional fishing activities have been severely restricted.

In addition to the Act, restrictions imposed in the name of cleansing Loktak Lake have threatened the only livelihood of the fishermen, Ibohal asserted.

The Loktak Lake is divided into core zone and buffer zone.

Even as the core zone is accessible to the people of Thanga Heisnam, Oinam Part I and II, Thanga Khunjem Leikai, Moirang, Ningthoukhong and others for fishing, all kinds of fishing activities have been banned in the buffer zone thereby posing serious threat to the livelihood of hundreds of fishermen and their families.

Pointing out that Clause 1 to 39 of the Loktak Protection Act has no provision for any welfare scheme of fishermen; the ex-MLA asserted that the Act is anti-people.

Observing that clearance of phumdis from Loktak Lake has begun following a survey conducted by the LDA by providing Rs 15,500 to each occupant, the BJP vice-president noted that the phumdi dwellers, some of whom own phumdi as large  as one to two acre(s) have been demanding compensation for phumdis too.

There are around 1000 houses built over phumdis in Loktak Lake and the total number of phumdi dwellers is around 2000 people.

While the Government has initiated eviction process, the people took out a protest rally against the eviction order.

Before the poor fishermen are evicted from their houses, they should be provided an alternative means of livelihood and a special economic package should be announced in advance, Ibohal asserted.

Stating that around one lakh people are dependent on Loktak Lake for their livelihood, S Ibohal urged for amendment of the Loktak Protection Act within the ongoing Assembly session.

The State Government has been planning to flush out insurgent cadres taking shelter in phumdis of Loktak Lake. For this, three hovercrafts were purchased from the USA and deployed at the lake.

(Courtesy: The Sangai Express)

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