`Loktak Protection Act threatens fishing communities`


IMPHAL, April 6: A public discussion on the controversial Manipur Loktak Lake (Protection) Act, 2006, held at Ningthoukhong Bazaar, today unanimously resolved to press the Government for scrapping the Act.
Around thousand of people mostly women belonging to fishing families from the surroundings of the Loktak Lake took part in the discussion.
The public meet at the same time resolved to forming a Joint Committee of all the People’s organizations around the Lake for all necessary follow up actions.
Many who discussed the Act highlighted fundamental flaws in the process of formulating the Act that directly affected the livelihoods of thousands of fishers’ population (90%) surviving on the Lake and stressed the importance of the rights of community participation in protecting the endangered ecology of Loktak Lake. Many women leaders and men representing various fishers’ organizations expressed serious concerns on the intent of the Act which overlooked the socio-economic and cultural rights of the people and ecological relationships with the Lake.
“The Act is direct and immediate threat to my right to daily livelihood and so I shall fight till death”, said Sakhi who took part in the discussion.
The gathering also threatened to boycott the forthcoming election if the present MLAs of the areas do not support the people’s movement and initiate processes to review the Act involving people who will be directly affected.
The Loktak Lake Floating Hut Dwellers & Fishermen Progressive Committee (Apunba Lup), All Loktak Fishing Workers Association, The All Manipur Thanga People Welfare Assn, The Loktak Peoples Forum All Loktak Lake Floating Hut Dwellers & Fishermen Progressive Committee (Nupi Apunba Lup) were some of the organization took part in the discussion.
It may be recalled that the Chief Minister O. Ibobi Singh gave a clarion call to the fishermen and local people surrounding the Loktak Lake, that farming of Phumdis (floating bio mass) will be held accountable as restricted activities under provision of the act for protecting the Lake.
The Chief Minister stated this during the official launching function of the hover crafts issued to the Loktak protection force to flush out militant in and around the Lake, held at the Takmu Water Sports Complex.
Chief Minsiter, O. Ibobi Singh also mentioned there was no restriction in any kind of fishing activities but planting Phumdis and building huts gives advantage for under ground and antisocial groups to take refuge and shelter who carry out various anti social activities like kidnapping, extortion etc.
It hinted the people that Government would be compelled to construed this as a sign of showing their endorsement to the anti social activities.
In the meantime, as a part of protecting the Loktak Lake a proper demarcation would soon be conducted under the “Protection of Lotak Lake Act”, informed the Chief Minister during the function.


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