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Manipur development project spells doom for 11 villages, 12,000 people

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Imphal: One person’s manna is another person’s poison. This adage couldn’t ring more true for the people of Manipur whose fate has been divided along the line of development. Manipur

The construction of a multi-purpose dam that promises a better life for people in one part of the state has spelt doom for nearly 12,000 people in 11 villages whose homes will be submerged in the waters and be lost forever.

The Mapithel dam of the Thoubal multi-purpose project in Phayang has been the eye of a storm for the locals for a long time now – since its inception in 1980. But now that the end is nearing and the result is there for all to see, those affected have been raising a last cry for help.

Construction of the dam means blocking the Thoubal river, leading to the water-level rising and submerging 11 villages in the vicinity, along with fertile paddy fields, forest land and historical relics like some of Manipur’s oldest churches.

One such church, the Chadong Baptist Church, which was built in 1935 and is claimed to be one of the oldest in the state, held an emotional prayer service last week before it went under water.

In a memorandum to the chief secretary of Manipur, the religious heads of the affected villages and others wrote: “While trying to provide benefits to the valley districts, more than 12,000 people who are in the project upstream are adversely affected and displaced with no means of future survival.”

The 66-metre-high and 1,074-metre- long dam is aimed at utilising the water resources to provide irrigation to 21,860 hectares of cultivable land in the Thoubal district as well as generate 7.50 MW electricity and supply water to the capital city, Imphal.

This “positive” development has, however, not gone down well with the people of the affected villages, mainly because they will in no way reap the benefits of this project but lose a lot in the bargain instead.

“There has been no proper resettlement and rehabilitation programme for the affected villagers. There has been no impact assessment on the socio-economic and religious perspective,” the memorandum said.

“The Mapithel mountain, located across the dam, will become inaccessible for forage of edible plants, roots and mushrooms necessary for future survival when a reservoir is created,” the memorandum added.

Chadong, one of the affected villages, is known for its soil fertility and its organic food products like mushrooms and bamboo shoots make their way to markets in Imphal and elsewhere.

The Thoubal river, often called the river of strength because of its strong undercurrents, also sees community fishing in the Chadong area – a much celebrated event.

“All of that will now become history,” lamented Ngayeimi, a villager in Chadong, echoing the sentiments of others. Most people in the affected areas are farmers and they fear the uncertainty of the future.

“The future looks bleak. What will I do, I am a farmer…” asked Bosco, another villager who has a family of five, including three children, to support. Villagers also claim that after years of protest, the state government did agree to give compensation, “but only few have been given this till now”.

“All we want is that our plight should be first redressed, then the construction,” the memorandum read, reflecting the irony of how development can have different definitions for different people.

(IANS)

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Loktak Lake: World’s Only Floating National Park

Loktak Lake is a beautiful stretch of water that resembles a miniature inland sea

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Currently, Loktak faces problems due to the construction of a barrage at the only outlet of the lake. Wikimedia Commons
Currently, Loktak faces problems due to the construction of a barrage at the only outlet of the lake. Wikimedia Commons
  • Loktak Lake is famous for the Phumdis floating over it
  • These Phumdis are inhibited by around 4000 people
  • Loktak faces problems due to loss of vegetation cover

Located near Moirang in Manipur, Loktak Lake is the largest freshwater lake in the Northeastern pars of India. The lake is famous for it’s ‘Phumdis’; located on the largest Phundi, the Keibul Lamjao National Park, is the last refuse of Sangai (an endangered animal, also the state animal of Manipur). Currently, Loktak faces problems due to the construction of a barrage at the only outlet of the lake.

ALSO READ: ONGC and Unesco Join Hands to get India’s Largest Coastal Lagoon ‘Chilika Lake’ the World Heritage Site, Tag

Loktak Lake Phumdis

loktak lake phumdis, Local people construct their huts on Phumdis for fishing and other livelihood uses. Wikimedia Commons
Local people construct their huts on Phumdis for fishing and other livelihood uses. Wikimedia Commons

Phumdis are a series of floating islands that cover a substantial part of Loktak lake area. They are heterogeneous masses of vegetation, soil and organic matter, in different stages of decay. The largest single-mass Phumdi covers an area of 40 km2. Local people construct their huts on Phumdis for fishing and other livelihood uses. Loktak Lake Phumdis are inhabited by about 4000 people.

Loktak Lake Tourism And Conservation

The Loktak Lake is designated as a wetland of international importance under the Ramsar Convention on March 23, 1990. It was also listed under the Montreux Record on June 16, 1993, “a record of Ramsar sites where changes in ecological character have occurred, are occurring or are likely to occur”.

loktak lake tourism, 55 rural and urban hamlets that surround the lake have a population of 100,000 people. Wikimedia Commons
55 rural and urban hamlets that surround the lake have a population of 100,000 people. Wikimedia Commons

Loktak Lake is a beautiful stretch of water that resembles a miniature inland sea. You can catch an aerial-type view of the lake from Sendra. The Sendra Tourist Home with an attached Cafeteria is a sought after tourist spot. Boating and other water sports are organized here at Takmu Water Sports Complex.

ALSO READ: Taj Lake Palace: Floating Palace in Udaipur is the Ultimate Destination for a Romantic Break

Loktak Lake Map

Loktak Lake map, Loktak Lake and location of a multi-purpose Hydropower Project. Wikimedia Commons
Loktak Lake and location of a multi-purpose Hydropower Project. Wikimedia Commons

Loktak gains its waters from Manipur river and several other tributaries. It’s the only outlet is ‘Ungamel Channel’. The five major rivers with an indirect catchment area of 7,157 km2 (2,763 sq mi) are the Imphal (also called the Manipur River), the Iril, the Thoubal, the Sekmai and the Khuga.

Though hydrological data on river basin has not been adequately monitored, the Department of Earth Science, Manipur University has in its report of 1996 assessed the average runoff of Manipur River as 519,200 ha·m (4,209,000 acre·ft; 5.192 km3) from a total catchment area of 697 km2 (269 sq mi) at the Ithai barrage. The groundwater potential has been assessed estimated at 44 hm3 (36,000 acre⋅ft) per annum.