By RS Jassal
The recently held seminar on the subject as above organised by the Loktak Brigade & LDA in conjunction opened with many angles but definitely closing on one that is locals, LDA authorities were lacking desired closeness in interaction, short falls in achieving target on part of LDA and a third angle, local community leaders blurred perception about the ‘role of Army’ or call it SFs i.e., why so many including CRPF, IRB and at far ends of lake the deployment of BSF too are there. This seminar was vividly marked by straight thoughts from all angles in a relaxed atmosphere.
LDA/ Ithai Barrage had started with very high hopes and aspirations for the Government & the people so far water management and power generating perceptive is concerned. To give full quantum of water backup into the reservoir, Irang river waters were supposed to be tunneled into Loktak. In initial stages, limited category of people were allowed to avail trolleys to go inside deep into huge well as part of curiosity and adventure, but steadily hampered & progress retarded thereafter by the UG activities, unsocial elements & vested interests is the story well known to everyone till 2004-2005 set in with SFs operations started with code name ‘All Out Clear’. Army officer as a speaker that too CO of a Battalion from the area was well thought of and it clarified many hither-to-fore not too well known facts to the locals. Loktak & Thanga, Khodrak areas were undeclared ‘Liberated Zones’ used for the rendezvous of various categories of people for various purposes. In fact revelation by Col. N. Bhardwaj gave fillip to the job of DPIR, Govt. of Manipur who could hardly enter those areas then, forget about the awareness campaigns which the Deptt or LDA authorities were expected to do. As regards to exposing Acts & Regulations connected with management of LDA affecting locals around were well brought out by the speakers. It appeared some of them needed incorporation into LDA’s latest regulations; but all were in existence independently whether effective or otherwise. The vision 2015 Loktak projected by Ibobi Singh Director LDA Project stood tall in its own stand. He exhorted locals to take it as their welfare project & to take interest more than, the Army is doing. They need coming forward to take LDA effort forward. Locals especially fishermen stood mired in their conviction that most of the developmental activities were to up root them or affect their hereditary claims to cultural livelihood. Another aspect argued was on Phumdi clearance which was considered as disturbing ecology resultant to extinction of a large variety of fish culture & non acceptance of invitation by the migratory birds (now) due to climate change. However none of the speakers attributed change in environs due to activities of various groups of undergrounds which invited military action. One speaker attributed disturbance to the fishes & Sangai, state pride animal to the high decibels of noise pollution being created by the three hovercrafts inducted into the lake for fighting insurgent activities & but ignored sounds of aircrafts which start lowering down at Tulihal airport everyday so on so forth. Whatsoever emanated from the speakers rostrum, all were true in their own respects and details.
Based on above, author feels that;
(a) Ignoring recent past & two decades of inter and intra connectivities disturbed by insurgent activities & LDA developmental slow activities, LDA project needs to be strengthened. AS Ho’nble MLA, Shri Ratan said on ‘sideline of the seminar’ that K.Pro & LDA did suffer due to lack of coordination among themselves and K Pro’s infrastructures could not reach on time as planned.
(b) People of the lake & LDA must endeavour to have more connects. People must see of realistic advantages accruing out of well completed project underscoring initial discomforts of the fishermen. They will still be there on their holdings in one way or the other. They must eye on eco tourism to follow. So many more openings on Forestry, horticulture etc will come up.
(c) Govt. of Manipur is fully equipped with dedicated Depts. of Fishery, Forestry, Horticulture and Ecological Environs and Tourism. They can work in tandem with LDA but maintaining clear independence from Manipur Loktak Lake (Protection) Act 2006. If all such Depts. area if added with LDA it will make LDA management encumbersome. Their main job is to generate Power & Water management resultant out of this. If tunneling could not be holed successfully for channelising water of Irang then and there is no hope of its happening now. LDA may explore means to channelise waters down streams from nearby hills for waters flow into Loktak as additional WATER quantum is essential for producing electricity. There is no doubt if LDA succeeds as per their initial inducting onto mission and Govt. of Manipur determinately puts up Tipaimukh Hydro project through, these two water cities in the offing will have positive changes as Light House of Manipur – which will be adhesive and integrative of people than current divisive scenario Where there is sunshine, clouds also have to follow. One sub head is second session in this seminar; on why various groups of UG had selected LOKTAK as saviour to carry their mission ahead which failed. LDA objective too and excessive difficulties from media in reflecting motive of Op “All Out Clear’” and frontal onslaught by frontal organisations to turn every single mistake of the Govt. and SFs in linkage to HR violation so on & so forth; would have done completed job of DIPR also.
In fine: Seminar was great success as it brought affected people, LDA and Security Forces Perspective into one line of accommodating one another rather finding faults with any system. To this end Brig. Laove Verma, Ritesh Kumar WISA, New Delhi, Th. Ibobi Singh, Project Director LDA and Hemamcha Sobha of Moirang Thangjing Yangeirol deserve congratulations. Retd VC (MU) Dr. H.Tombi Singh and Prof. Amar Yumnam of MU gave sterling touch to the moderation part of both the sessions. We hope to see such similar collective Seminars/ Workshops in future to come. To my reading this seminar has definitely established its relevancy which was required.