Fishermen unite to fight Loktak Lake Protection Act

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IMPHAL April 26: Locals mainly fishermen from Thanga ,Karang and Ithing area voiced their dissent regarding the handicaps faced by them due to the implementation of the Loktak Lake Protection Act at a public meeting held at Karang island today.During the meeting the fishermen resolved to fight the ‘inhuman’ act through any possible means.
Many of the speakers dwelled on the issue of losing their means of livelihood as certain restrictions are made to the fishing community by large, under the provision of the said Act.
Thasana, a fish farmer also referred to as “the hope” by locals, said that the Act is not public friendly and needs to be scrapped or reviewed. She said that Thanga, Karang has produced many top level bureaucrats, this is the result of the hard work of the parents who educated them by earning money by fishing at the lake. “ If the government takes away our right to fishing, then we may as well be condemned to die, as we know no other occupation other than fishing, what chances do we have of surviving the odds, we cannot let our children starve”, she added.
Urging the islanders to remain united and protest against the Act, Thasana hinted that new huts are being built on the phumdis (bio mass) for getting extra compensation from the government, but at the juncture if the residents of the island are targeting quick money instead of looking out for the betterment of the community and the future, then the future of the island is bleak, “We need to be united to face the oppression from the government”, she asserted.
Similar comments were voiced at the meeting by representatives from different organizations namely H Kula, secretary of All Manipur Thanga People’s Welfare Association, H Brojen, secretary of Loktak People Forum, H Jiten, secretary of All Loktak Floating Hut Dwellers and Fisherman Progressive Committee Tomba, secretary of Loktak Fishing Worker’s Association, S Amitkumar, secretary of Karang Island Development Organization among other attendees.
The meeting held at Ibudhou Khumanpokapa community hall unanimously resolved to adopt a stance against the Manipur Loktak Lake Protection Act, 2006 and to protest jointly under a common banner christened, “All Loktak Lake Catchment Area Fishermen Protection Forum”.
It was also resolved to urge the concerned authorities to review the Loktak Project and to open the Ithai Barrage which will restore the natural cycle of the lake and to preserve it.
The forum will stand against any endeavor for land acquisition by the state government for expansion of the Keibul Lamjao National Park and further not to oblige the compensation awarded by the government for the floating huts.
It may be mentioned that the Act as published in the state gazette (number 20) mentions that fishing can be carried out but nets, phumdi farms, poles etc are restricted.

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