`Completion of Loktak Lake cleaning to be extended by few more months`

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IMPHAL June 21: The cleaning of the Loktak Lake from Phumdis which had been stipulated to be over by March 2012 may most probably be extended for another few months. This is due to the law and order situation in the state especially months of economic blockade which delayed arrival of essential supplies for the works including fuel, stated project director of Loktak Development Authority, Thounaojam Ibobi today.

He was talking to reporters at the sidelines of a sensitization program about Loktak Lake at INA memorial complex at Moirang.

Ibobi describing the work currently going on at Loktak stated that under the funding from the Special Plan Assistance (SPA) from the Central Planning Commission, a short term action plan on conservation and management of Loktak Lake was conceived in March 2009.

He added that the project which had six major components was estimated at a cost of Rs 374 crores. Among the components which include transport, flushing, restoration etc of Phumdis, the main bulk of the sanctioned amount is given to phumdi management and is fixed at 60% of the overall project cost.

“At least Rs 224 crores has been earmarked for phumdi management and the contract had been awarded to K PRO Infra Ltd, a New Delhi based company having a liaison with Progressive Construction Ltd, another Bangalore based company, and the work order was given by November2009 while the actual works commenced from January 2010, now mechanical removal of phumdis is at least 30 percent completed and 60 percent of flushing is completed”, he said.

Stating that the works could have made further progress but for the economic blockade and seasonal changes in the Loktak lake like low water level, saltation, the removal of phumdis has been affected.

He said that the contract assigned to K PRO Infra Ltd may be stretched due to such unseen and un-predictable factors.

On the issue of the fishers affected by the Loktak Protection Act, 2006, he said that necessary follow up actions has been done to look after the needs for the affected fishermen and to provide them with alternative means of livelihood.

“We have carried out ground work to find out how many fisherman are having farming huts at the phumdis, the records shows that more than a thousand families have been affected and we have instituted a committee to address their grievances and more over to give them vocational training and provide them schemes which can be a means of livelihood for them after proper verification, the schemes may vary from animal husbandry schemes to sericulture projects”, he added.

Stressing on the need to save Loktak Lake, he stated that cooperation from all quarters is needed, and further voiced that the present work carried out by K PRO is satisfactory and after the end of their engagement contract, further ongoing works will be taken up by the LDA.

He mentioned the advantage given by the recently implemented “Water Master” as having a huge capability in the clearance of phumdis and dredging.

“We are proposing to buy two Barges (boats designed to transport mass loads) to assist the Water Master, the barges are manufactured at Pondicherry and cost about Rs 65 lakhs each”, he said.

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