Loktak – A threatened ecology at gunpoint

Loktak Lake is God’s own country. Measuring around 287 sq. Km, it is the largest freshwater lake in the North Eastern India, situated in the Manipur state. Loktak means end of stream ( Lok = stream, Tak = end), which it literally is since it is where all local rivulets end. On the south-eastern shores of the lake is situated Keibul Lamjao National Park that houses the 100 odd last Sangai -s (Manipur brow-antlered deer – Rucervus eldi eldi ) an endangered species.

The lake is a huge and vital ecology which is slowly degenerating and rightly declared a wetland of international importance under the Ramsar Convention on March 23, 1990. In Manipur, Loktak serves the purpose of Hydro-electricity generation, Fishery, Irrigation and the pressure of human activities by roughly 100,000 people pose question of survival for the lake’s ecology.

This incredibly beautiful place and the fragile ecology, if perished, will see the end of one surprising natural habitat of phumdis. A phumdi is a huge floating island of (heterogeneous mass of vegetation, soil, and organic matters at various stages of decomposition) and the lake contains several of them, earning the name The Floating Lake of the World.

There is a worldwide campaign on saving Loktak which you can check here .

The following video may give you a glimpse of the Loktak Lake and it’s story.

This, however, is not a post about another threatened water body. In a queer mix of environmental tragedy and decaying political governance, much of the phumdis are now under control of machinegun yielding local militant groups. The State’s hackneyed rhetoric to describe the militant groups as miscreants ordinary criminals is too oversimplified to earn any credibility – but that’s another debate. The new turn is that to add further misery to the ecological decline of the lake, frequent armed interactions between forces of the state and the militants are claiming lives of people and endangered animals of the phumdis .

In a desperate bid to save the Lake and it’s people the Sate Administration has formed a commando team named LPF (Loktak Protection Force). In a brutal show of power to crush the hold of violence in the phumdis this LPF will be aided with hovercrafts which will contain the following weapons:

  • 2 Rocket launchers
  • Signaling system
  • 7.62 millimeter Rifles
  • 9 millimeter Carbines
  • 4 Radar domes
  • 0.38 mm Pistols
  • About 4100 cartridges of ammunitions

I had been to Loktak. So I was trying to imagine hovercrafts mowing over phumdis and staccato sounds of firearms splitting the majestic peace and tranquil. Unfortunately, in my imagination, they looked quite similar to sequences from the movie ‘Apocalypse Now’.

Image Courtesy: Wikipedia Commons

News Source : ] [The source in Bangla language

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All opinions are solely those of the author. Reader's discretion necessary for using any of the contents of this website. (c) Pabitra Mukhopadhyay 2011
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