A one-day workshop on ‘Conservation and Wise Use of Loktak and Associated Lakes,’ was organised by Loktak Development Authority in association with Mangolnganbi College, Ningthoukhong.
Organised in commemoration of the 33rd Loktak Day, a day celebrated since 1989 to mark the significance of Loktak Lake in our culture, traditions, and socio-economic and ecological well-being of Manipur.
Loktak and the Associated Lakes (Pumlen, Khoidum, Kharung and Ikop lakes) are at risk now due to various factors like the water level regime by Ithai Barrage, pollution, overfishing and encroachment. Loss of biodiversity and decreasing fishery resources have also become a matter of grave concern. Local communities that are deeply dependent on the lake resources have been adversely affected by these factors and the fall of the lake’s ecosystem. Overall, the quality of life of the people that depend on it for sustenance has decreased.
The workshop will attempt to identify the key threats and issues and evolve strategies for a long-term conservation and management plan in a sustainable way. I appreciate LDA for organising the workshop for deep analysis based on scientific knowledge and community participation to find a way forward for saving the lake successfully.
I welcome the steps and the new approach taken by Loktak Development Authority to preserve Loktak lake and appeal to all the concerned departments, stakeholders and community members to come together and participate in the conservation efforts. If we lose Loktak, we will lose Manipur. – Th Biswajit Singh, Minister for Power, Forest, Environment and Climate Change, Agriculture, Science & Technology, Govt of Manipur.
Loktak lake is an integral part of the people of Manipur. It is an integral part of our social, cultural and historical narrative. As we face the ramifications of climate change, I appeal to the people of Manipur to join LDA and participate in the conservation efforts. – Govindas Konthoujam, Minister for Public Works, Youth Affairs and Sports, Govt of Manipur.
As the Chairman of LDA, I appeal to all the participants, especially the teaching faculty of the colleges around Loktak lake, to spread the message of the need for conservation and preservation efforts to save Loktak lake and to join the endeavours of Loktak Development Authority in saving our beloved Loktak Ima (mother). – M Asnikumar Singh, Chairman, LDA.
A. Key Observations.
A.1. Loktak and Associated lakes viz Pumlen, Khoidum, Kharung and Ikop are hydrologically and ecologically connected, and form an interconnected wetland complex.
A.2. The wetland complex is closely linked to the culture and traditions of the region and has immense socio-economic significance.
A.3. The pulsating character of the hydrological regime of Loktak and Associated Lakes has been completely modified due to Ithai Barrage creating a nearly closed condition adversely affecting the ecological health, biodiversity and local livelihoods.
A.4. Increased inflow of pollutants from the inflowing rivers and lakeshore settlements as well as loading of fertilisers and pesticides from the surrounding agricultural areas have aggravated pollution.
A.5. Exponential growth in Athaphum fishing and shift from a seasonal practice to a permanent system and detrimental fishing practices (e.g. electric fishing, use of pesticides) have adversely affected the wetland’s health.
A.6 Ever-increasing population and dependency on forest resources as well as the absence of proper management systems and shifting cultivation is leading to deforestation and thereby impacting the ecosystem.
A.7. Excessive siltation from the catchments and encroachments with rapid changes in the land use pattern has shrunk the natural areas of the lake and adversely affected the wetland’s health.
A.8 Poaching of wildlife, birds and overfishing is a matter of grave concern.
Summary of Recommendations.
B.1. Prevent deforestation in the catchment areas and erosion of stream banks through participatory processes and livelihood development programmes to minimise siltation.
B.2. Ecological boundaries of the lakes should be consolidated based on past land use, and land cover patterns, and demarcated in the field to control further conversion and encroachment of wetland areas.
B.3. Evolve policy to manage lake water levels by opening the Ithai barrage to ensure ecosystem recovery and long-term persistence of Keibul Lamjao National Park and biodiversity through a review process
B.4. Sensitise and encourage judicious use of fertilisers and pesticides in the agricultural fields around the wetlands while encouraging organic farming.
B.5 Stricture action against poaching of wildlife. B.6. Promote sustainable development of lake fisheries with special emphasis on indigenous species.
B.7 Registration of regular fishermen within the wetland system.
B.8 Regulate fishing activities, especially during the breeding season through incentives from the Govt.
B.9 Construct a fish screen across the power channel of NHPC to control fish flow to Laimatak.
B.10 Reduce pollution loading from the inflowing streams and lakeshore settlement through appropriate interventions like STPs, Solid Waste Management Systems at strategic locations, including bio-toilets in Champu Khangpok.
B.11 Enhance water recharge through intensive afforestation.
B.12 Preparation of zoning atlas for the entire river basin.
B.13 Rejuvenation of drainage system.
B.14 Conduct studies on Phumdi dynamics to assess formation and succession.
B.15 Establish Wetland Inventory, Assessment and Monitoring infrastructure with state-of-art laboratories (GIS & RS, Water quality and hydro mets etc)
B.16 Assess ecosystem status and trends in the context of climate change.
B.17 Formulate a comprehensive management plan.
B.18 Management Plans of Loktak and Associated lakes shall be coherent.
B.19 Interagency coordination mechanism for convergence of all the developmental plans, programmes, and investments for the wetland complex by different departments.
B.20 Explore and create livelihood alternatives for the lake and catchment communities through ecotourism, horticulture and local resource-based microenterprises supported by skill development training and marketing infrastructure.
B.21 Promote education and awareness programmes on the values and functions of wetlands.
B.22 Engage communities in planning, implementation and monitoring of Management Activities, Constitute village-level committees for the management of forests management.
B.23 Promote traditional fishing techniques and practices.
B.24 Disseminate wetland-based folklore and literature.
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