Wetlands International South Asia upholds and deeply respects the rights of indigenous people and local communities living in and around Loktak (Manipur), who have time and again provided valuable advice and direction to wetland management for over two decades of our engagement with this Ramsar site.
A petition currently in circulation by ESG India, calling for the saving of Lake Loktak and support of its people, has highlighted the need for greater engagement with these communities and for the government to revise its current plans for the development of Lake Loktak.
Loktak Manipur: An Integrated Plan for Wise Use (2020-2025) was prepared by Wetlands International South Asia for Loktak Development Authority (LDA) at their request. This management plan conforms to the diagnostic evaluation process recommended by the Ramsar Convention and the guidelines of the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change.
Wetlands International South Asia has no say in the management plan review processes, which are subsequently conducted by the state government through their internal mechanisms.
Wetlands International South Asia has not, at any stage, supported or endorsed the Loktak Ecotourism or Inland Navigation Project, either in the management plan or otherwise. These initiatives have been developed independently by the concerned state government agencies. We are of the firm belief that all developmental activities around the Loktak Wetland Complex have to be aligned with wetland’s ecological character and wise-use. Loktak being a Ramsar site is regulated under the provisions of the Wetlands (Conservation and Management) Rules, 2017. The management plan has called for ensuring convergence in all developmental activities in and around Ramsar site in conformity with wise use principle and the extant regulatory regime.
Wetlands International South Asia has expressed serious reservations on the continued degradation of the Loktak Lake. We have repeatedly highlighted the insufficiency of existing management, and a fact that Loktak still exists on the Montreux record ( a List of Ramsar Site having undergone or undergoing adverse change in ecological character). Addressing alterations of natural hydrological regimes due to the construction of the Ithai barrage which is at the core of the degradation has been highlighted as being central to wetland rejuvenation. Besides mention in the management plan, we have made repeated references in letters to this important issue addressed to the Chief Secretary, Government of Manipur and other key functionaries.
A letter addressed to the Chief Secretary after a field visit to the wetland in April 2018 called for action on eight priority actions namely:
- Implementation of water allocation plan
- Implementation of Nambul Action Plan
- Reorganisation of LDA
- Wetlands monitoring
- Reconstitution of Technical Advisory Committee
- Regulation of expansion of fish farms
- Delineation of wetland boundary
- Actions for delisting Loktak from Montreux Record
We continue to pursue these priority interventions at various levels.
Wetlands International South Asia does not endorse the November 2011 incident of evicting phum dwellers from Loktak. We have recommended a comprehensive reorganisation of the LDA to build its capability to engage with stakeholders.
We are concerned that without a well-meaning plan to ensure maintenance of the ecological character of Loktak, the wetland will continue to degrade and impact the lives of the communities.
We urge the petitioners to bring forth their concerns to the LDA and Manipur State Wetland Authority so that any gaps in the management plan can be addressed. Wetlands International South Asia will facilitate incorporation of all revisions as requested by LDA and Manipur State Wetlands Authority.
We remain committed to the cause of conservation of this unique wetland which is the lifeline of Manipur and welcome a united effort in raising concerns to restore the health of this internationally important Ramsar Site for its people and nature.