IMPHAL, April 30(NNN): The Centre remains committed to developing Loktak Lake as it is one of the most enchanting and magnificent lakes of the world with community engagement and collective efforts, union minister of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (EFCC) Bhupender Yadav said here on Saturday.
He stressed the importance of protecting and conserving the Loktak Lake in his address at a two-day “Regional consultative workshop for restoration and integrated management of wetland” began here on Friday in the presence of Manipur chief minister N Biren Singh.
The consultative workshop was organised by Loktak Development Authority (LDA) Manipur under the sponsorship of the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change.
Yadav said that Loktak, one of the two largest freshwater lakes in Southeast Asia is not only the natural habitat of rare Sangai deer but also the lifeline of people of the state.
The people of Manipur referring Loktak to as Ema (mother) itself indicated how much the freshwater lake is important.
Loktak is the lifeline of the people of the state. This lake is the largest source of fish, edible plants and other vegetables, he maintained.
The purpose of preserving the lake is not only for the protection of the wetland but also life and livelihood of the people depending on it, Yadav said.
“The Loktak Lake is an integral part of the culture and ecology of Manipur. So, the government remains committed to developing Loktak Lake as one of the most enchanting and magnificent lakes of the world with community engagement and collective efforts,” Yadav said.
His ministry has been providing financial assistance since 1988-89 for undertaking conservation activities like survey and demarcation, catchment area treatment, fisheries development, removal of phumdis, constructing water harvesting structures, small scale engineering works, creation of education and awareness etc.
The Union minister also asserted the critical role played by the wetland ecosystem in securing ecological, economic and climate security and said that keeping this in mind, the incumbent government at the Centre has been giving special focus on conservation and restoration of the wetlands across the country.
He highlighted the achievements of the country in the field in the last around nine years under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The country has not only developed economically but also with ecological balance, he said.
The minister also emphasized the importance of strengthening communication, education, awareness and participation to conserve the wetlands.
Manipur chief minister N Biren Singh who also attended the workshop, in his address, expressed his concern over the ever diminishing wetlands in the state.
Wet lands are one of the most valuable ecosystems, everyone knows it. They are crucial for maintaining eco-diversity, regulating the water cycle and medicating climate change, he said.
“Despite their importance, wetlands are under threat globally. In Manipur too, there were many wetlands. Because of insincerity among the government officials and greediness of the people, we have exploited many wetlands,” Singh said.
State revenue department issues fake pattas to the encroachers and converted into homestead lands. One big example, we are facing frequent floods in Imphal city because of losing of wetland coverage due to encroachment in Lamphelpat, he said.
The encroachment in this lake is so serious that even the government is constructing inside the lake. This is the worst part on the government side.
Government officials are very important in the protection and conservation of the wetlands. People know little about the importance of the wetlands and the bureaucrats and the government never thought of educating the people.
It was only after the BJP-led government came to power, we started taking up effective works to demarcate the wetlands, reserved forests and protected forest areas, he claimed.
Manipur Forest and Environment minister Th Bishwajit also delivered his speech in the workshop in which some ministers and MLAs and officials from Assam, Tripura, Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim, Nagaland, Mizoram and the hosting state participated.
On the occasion, the Union EFCC minister released a book entitled “Cultural Significance of Indian Wetlands”.