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Wetlands Day Observed

IMPHAL, Feb 2: Pledges to preserve and protect the Loktak Lake marked the 40th World Wetlands Day observance held today at moral Guidance School, Komlakhong.

Under the sponsorship of Environment and Ecology Wing (Govt of Manipur), the observance function was co-hosted by Indian national Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage Manipur Chapter, Environment and Human Development (Manipur), Manipur Association for Science and Society, Indian Birds Conservation Network, Centre for Organization Research and  Education, and Loktak people’s Forum.

Pledges taken by the participants centered on protection of the Loktak Lake by opposing any activities detrimental to existence of the largest fresh water lake in the region; demand for revision of NHPC activities and construction of Ithai Barrage; encourage scholars carry out research works for sustaining longevity of the important water body; and renaming Loktak Development Authority as Wetland Board.

Presenting the key-note address Environment and Human Development Manipur vice president W Rajesh said the concept of Wetlands day observation on the global scale formalized when representatives of 18 countries met on February 2, 1972 and held extensive discussion on ways to save wetlands. As the movement expanded and 1896 wetlands in 135 countries have been recorded so far, five Ramsar sites have been identified in India.

In the context of Manipur number of wetlands is accounted to be 155 out of which 25 are in Bishnupur district, 79 in Imphal area, 49 in Thoubal district, three in Senapati and one in Tamenglong district, Rajesh detailed.

Speaking as the chief guest, Prof N Joykumar of Manipur University pointed out that rather than bring benefit to people settled in the periphery of Loktak Lake construction of Ithai Barrage has caused extensive inundation of fertile land thereby curbing source of sustenance for a large number of people.

Expressing strong resentment that inspite of numerous campaigns and apprisals to the Government no concrete measures had been initiated to address plight of the people, Prof Joykumar also suggested that instead of demanding compensation NHPC project-affected families should insist on job security for long term solution to the problem. He further expressed that the people should take a firm stand to protect their land and source of income generation at the time of expansion of the Keibul Lamjao National Park for basic human right of survival cannot be compromised in the name of development.

In his presidential address, Director of College development Council of Manipur University Dr RK Ranjan informed that out of about 500 lakes or wetlands that had existed in Manipur the number has declined sharply owing to lack of insight by policy makers. Highlighting that the present location of Raj Bhavan was among various wetlands in Imphal area, he also stressed on preservation of folklore and information passed by the forefather through the ages regarding existence of lakes and its benefit to the locals.

Noting that large water bodies in the State, particularly the Loktak Lake is an important place for migratory birds, the functional president also raised objection against the Manipur Loktak Lake (Protection) Act 2006 as the legislation do not reflect long term policy for protection of the Lake and have no provision for people settled around the water body. As a part of the observance one Moirangthem Ibohal of Tangjeng village was awarded Rs 1000 for his effort and contribution towards protection of wildlife. Essay and painting competitions for very young students with ‘Wetlands and Forest’ as the theme was also organized on the occasion in addition to a free medical camp, where the emphasis was on ophthalmic case.

(Courtesy: The Sangai Express)

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