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Expert Rings Phumdi Alarm For Loktak

The proliferation of phumdis have led to reduced water holding capacity, deterioration of water quality, interference in navigation, declined power generation capacity and fallen overall aesthetic value of the lake.

SHILLONG, Feb. 2: The world’s only floating sanctuary on the Loktak Lake in Manipur is facing a threat because of escalating number of phumdi or decaying vegetation, an official from the Space Applications Centre, Ahmedabad, warned today.

Speaking at a function to release the Northeast Wetlands Atlas on the occasion of World Wetland Day at the North Eastern Space Applications Centre in Umiam, J.G. Patel of the Centre said the lake was facing a threat as ‘floating mats’, formed by the collection of decaying vegetation locally known as phumdi, had steadily increased.

According to Patel, Loktak Lake shows intense infestation of phumdi and marshy vegetation as seen on satellite images.

Stating that the lake was the most important wetland in Manipur, Patel said the Loktak was more noteworthy as its southern part has been declared Keibul Lamjao National Park because of the presence of the unique dancing deer locally known as the sangai.

The Atlas was released as there was a need to monitor the wetlands, which are influenced by natural and man-made activities particularly in the Northeast.

Keeping this in mind, the National Wetland Inventory and Assessment project was launched to generate a database of the wetlands of the country using satellite remote sensing.

The secretary of the North Eastern Council, U.K. Sangma, who was the chief guest on the occasion, harped on the need to preserve wetlands as they form an integral part of the ecosystem. He also stressed that the biggest stakeholders, the people, need to be educated more on the significance of wetlands.

According to the mapping of the wetlands which was carried out by using geographic information system (GIS) layers, the Northeast has 7,731 wetlands which are about 4.17 per cent of the total geographical area of the region. In addition, there are 11,736 very small wetlands.

The major wetland types are rivers/streams, lakes/ponds, waterlogged, ox-bow lakes, high altitude lakes and reservoirs.

Meghalaya has 135 wetlands in addition to 167 smaller wetlands while the total wetland area has been estimated at 29,987 hectares. The aquatic vegetation spread showed less variation from pre-monsoon to post-monsoon season with 852 hectares to 819 hectares respectively.

The study also showed that the West Garo Hills has the highest area under wetland followed by the West Khasi Hills. Umiam Lake has been termed the most important wetland of the state.

Assam, with 5,097 wetlands, occupies the highest in the region in addition to 6,081 small wetlands.

The total wetland area has been estimated at 764,372 hectares while there is a drastic difference in area under aquatic vegetation in the pre and post-monsoon period.

(Courtesy: Telegraph India)

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