Activities and management interventions.
The Authority, over the years, has grown into a professional lake management organisation through a systematic process of capacity building at various levels and is becoming increasingly multidisciplinary to effectively respond to the challenges of lake management.
The Short Term Action Plan (STAP)
The Short Term Action Plan (STAP) for Loktak Lake was formulated by Wetlands International – South Asia (WISA) in March 2009 as a response to the Planning Commission’s review and direction for focusing on achieving ecological restoration of Loktak Lake is a priority within the ambit of the overarching Management Action Plan for Loktak Lake and associated wetlands. The STAP aims at conservation and sustainable utilization of Loktak Lake integrating Manipur River Basin for ecological security and livelihood improvement of local communities. An investment of Rs. 374 crore over two years is entailed to achieve stipulated objectives through action plans on phumdi management, water management, catchment conservation, biodiversity conservation, livelihood improvement, and institutional development. Central to the success of STAP is an integrated monitoring and evaluation system that can inform project management of the status of implementation and provide evidence of why certain objectives were achieved or not / underachieved. Conventionally, the monitoring and evaluation system represents a combination of two distinct but complementary processes to support project management. Monitoring is focused on providing information on where a program or activity stands at a given point in time. It is largely descriptive in intent. Evaluation on the other hand gives evidence of why targets or performance indicators have or have not been achieved. It, therefore, addresses causality. Monitoring involves linking activities and their resources to outputs and outcomes; translating objectives into performance indicators and setting targets; a routine collection of data on indicators and comparing actual results with targets; reporting to management and alerting them to problems. Evaluation analyzes why intended results were not achieved; assesses the specific causal contribution of activities to results; examines implementation processes; explores unintended results and provides lessons and recommendations for improvement (Global Environment Facility, 2007).
The design of the monitoring and evaluation system also needs to be referenced to the overall purpose of the exercise. Within the context of lake management planning, monitoring and evaluation systems are expected to guide decision making towards “wise use” defined as the “the maintenance of their ecological character, achieved through the implementation of ecosystem approaches, within the context of sustainable development.” Ecological character is the “combination of ecosystem components, processes and benefits/services that characterize the wetland at any given point of time.” Changes in ecological character form the basis of management actions. The role of monitoring and evaluation, therefore, is directed towards the assessment of changes in ecological character. Monitoring and evaluation of this scope are expected to be a continuous function of the Loktak Development Authority and have been in place to various extents since the implementation of the ICEF-funded project on ‘Sustainable Development and Water Resources Management of Loktak Lake.’
Implementation of STAP however, requires a much narrower and specific scope of monitoring and evaluation framework largely aimed at guiding the effective achievement of project objectives. It mandates a framework wherein project management can track collectively the outcome of the implementation of several component action plans in unison and make a decision on the project’s progress. It also mandates a shift from the routine ‘physical and financial targets’ based monitoring system to monitoring by results. Underlying the proposition is the need to make project management accountable for overall successes and failures during project implementation. The STAP monitoring and evaluation process, however, stands nested within the overall ecological character monitoring function of the Loktak Development Authority.
With the financial assistance under SPA, implementation of the Short Term Action Plan (STAP) for Conservation and Management of Loktak Lake Integrating Manipur River Basin was initiated in March 2009 following a review and reprioritization of project activities of the Management Action Plan at the instance of the Planning Commission. The STAP aimed at conservation and sustainable utilization of Loktak Lake integrating Manipur River Basin for ecological security and livelihood improvement of local communities. For the implementation of STAP, the Commission approved funding of Rs. 374 crores towards management of phumdi, catchment conservation, water management, and livelihood improvement of forest and wetland-dependent communities. It was envisaged that STAP would address critical activities required for the restoration of Loktak Lake, and would further provide a basis for scaling up the associated wetlands within the basin in the long term. For the reporting year 2011-12, an amount of Rs 44.23 crores was earmarked under SPA and so far a sum of Rs 22.125 crores have been made available to LDA to implement the stipulated targets.
The STAP, organized into 6 major components, is implemented by LDA and various other relevant Line Departments as shown below.
Activity components Implementing Agencies/Department:
1. Phumdi Management – Loktak Development Authority
2. Water Management – Public Health Engg. Department and Loktak Development Authority
3. Catchment Conservation – Forest Department and Horticulture & Soil Conservation
4. Biodiversity Conservation – Forest Department(Wild Life Wing)
5. Sustainable Resource Development & Livelihood Improvement – Fisheries Department, Veterinary & AH Department, Horticulture Department, Agriculture Department, Sericulture Department, and District Administration (IW & Bpr)
6. Project Management & Administration – Loktak Development Authority
The Steering Committee of LDA chaired by the Chief Secretary, Govt. of Manipur, provides the policy direction and maintains an overview of the implementation of various activities and coordination between various Line Departments and Agencies. The Committee, under the chairmanship of the Chief Secretary, Government of Manipur, introduced several important measures enhancing the effectiveness of project implementation, the key being streamlining of project fund flows, the convergence of funds and schemes with Line Departments, establishment of a Project Management Unit within LDA, and implementation of the monitoring system recommended under the Monitoring and Evaluation Framework developed by WISA. The Committee has also approved the setting up of a Technical Advisory Committee, with members representing the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) and Wetland International South Asia (WISA), to provide technical support to the conservation and management of Loktak Lake. Additionally, a Committee on Convergence has been constituted under the Principal Secretary (Forests and Environment) to enhance convergence amongst various schemes being implemented by line departments working under the project. An Interdepartmental Coordination Committee on Nambul River has also been constituted.
As per terms and conditions of the Planning Commission for implementation of the STAP, two independent monitors namely Water Institute, Karunya University, Coimbatore, and Development Alternatives, New Delhi, are monitoring project implementation based on a 3-Tier Result Based project Monitoring and Evaluation Framework.
• Established baseline inventory on ecological, hydrological, and socioeconomic features of Loktak Lake as a basis for management planning, implementation, and monitoring.
• Restoration of open water area in the central sector of Loktak Lake through the removal of phumdi and athaphum.
• Enhanced flow regimes in Loktak Lake through desiltation of critically silted inflowing streams and rivulets.
• Improved water quality of Loktak Lake through reduced nutrient leaching from peripheral settlements and removal of phumdi from the central sector.
• Formulated water allocation plan for Loktak Lake balancing human needs of water (for hydropower production and irrigation) with ecological requirements (maintenance of KLNP habitat, water circulation, and mixing).
• Re-vegetation of degraded catchments of Loktak Lake to ensure reduction in lake siltation.
• Built capacity of Loktak Development Authority to undertake integrated wetland management.
• Enhanced awareness of wetland values and functions through regular awareness campaigns, seminars, workshops, nature camps, and newsletters.
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