`Loktak among endangered lakes`

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IMPHAL, February 2: Loktak Lake has been classified under the Montage category of wetlands, meaning its condition has undergone serious deterioration, said Th Ibobi Singh, project director of Loktak Development Authority (LDA).

This was announced during an observation of World Wetland Day 2014 at Moirang INA Auditorium Hall today which was organised jointly by Association of Science and Technology, Moirang; Thangjing Yageirel Marup, Moirang; Moirang Municipal Council and Loktak Development Authority. He further mentioned that all over the world lakes or wetlands have been endangered. The observation is to give awareness to the public on preservation and conservation of wetland under Ramsar Convention, 1971.

He continued that Manipur has a large number of wetlands among which Loktak Lake is the most important as it plays a vital role in the socio-economy of the state.

He said that according to a report published in 1993, the ecological balance and bio-diversity situation have worsened at Loktak Lake pushing it under the montage category.

The indicators of the health of wetlands are the presence of water birds and the state of bio-diversity, he stated.

The lessening of migrating water birds at Loktak Lake is not a sign of development and the need of the hour is to understand the danger and spread awareness to the public. Without public participation the conservation of our Loktak Lake is impossible, said Ibobi.

Environmentalist Dr Khangembam Samugnou, a member of the Wild Life Activist International Union for Conservation of Nature said that the Ramsar convention was held on February 2, 1971 at Italy with the participation of various countries to conserve and preserve the world wetland sites. Each year, government agencies, non-governmental organizations, and groups of citizens at all levels of the community have taken advantage of the opportunity to undertake actions aimed at raising public awareness of wetland values and benefits in general and the Ramsar Convention in particular, he added.

Loktak Development Authority is trying to augment the development of Loktak Lake which had been affected from various directions, he stated adding that for identification of a wetland as Ramsar site there must be not less than 20,000 winter migratory water birds there. A survey conducted by a British political agent in Manipur in 1930 reported that 56,863 birds were killed in Loktak Lake, said Ibobi.

He further mentioned that from 1999, the Loktak Pat Sangai Protection Forum and its volunteer conducted water birds census record on the Loktak Lake. The survey conducted by the British identified 30 species of water birds and their population were in term of lakhs.

Now, the recent census of water birds has indicated that though the number of species had increased, the same cannot be said about the population of birds. This may be due to the change (development) in the environment of Loktak Lake and its water bodies, he stated adding that rare species of birds that had disappeared 60/70 years back are now sighted again, said Kh Shamungou.

Dhanabir Laishram said for development and conservation of the precious Loktak Lake, the political and civil societies need to combine. The main object should be pulling out the Loktak Lake from inclusion under the Montage category of Ramsar Convention, he stated.

He further said that there are many Act and Law on the protection of Loktak Lake, but without public participation there will be no success in conservation and protection of our Loktak Lake.

We must know that Loktak lake is the kidney of our body, the government is the head and administration is the heart of the body. The body with a dysfunctional kidney cannot continue, he added.

Th Ibobi released a water birds book entitled “Water Birds of Loktak Lake” the first of its kind book in Manipur.

As part of the World Wetland Day observation, a boat rally was also organised at Loktak Lake, while a public meeting was held at Ninghtoukhong today.

The boat rally at Loktak Lake was jointly organised by ALLAFUM, AMTPWA, AMPFA, AMUCO, CORE, CSD, CRA, FIPA, FREINDS, HERICOUN, HRA, HRI, INTACH, IPSA, LIFEWATCH, LFWA, NIPCO, PRDA, REACHOUT, UCM, UPF-Manipur.

The rally was flagged off from Thanga Haoreng Chingyang by co-ordinator, INTACH, Manipur Chapter Dr RK Ranjan and AMUCO president Dr Y Mani Khuman after passing through Samukon, Ngaram and other Thanga area and concluded at Ngakrapat, Toubul.

The rallyists shouted slogans- “Save Loktak”, “Remove Loktak Protection Act”, “Let us save Loktak together”, “Loktak is our life”, etc.

At the end of the rally, a public meeting was held at Ningthoukhong.

While flagging off the boat rally, Dr RK Ranjan said that people should aware of the need to save the lake which has been providing livelihood to the people inhabiting the surrounding areas of Loktak Lake.

The rally was conducted with the objective of urging both the government and the private companies involved in the area against disturbing the culture and heritage of the people, he observed.

An Indonesian citizen who had attended the rally elaborated on the need for the people depending on the lake to enjoy economic freedom.

Today’s rally was participated by around 200 boats with two/three people in each.

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