The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change has asked the State Government to submit a timeline for removal of Loktak Lake from the Montreux Record.
The Montreux Record is a list of wetland sites that are designated as Wetlands of International Importance. It tracks any changes in their ecological character that have occurred, are occurring, or are likely to occur due to pollution, technological advancements, or other human activities. The Montreux record is maintained as a part of the Ramsar List.
Loktak Development Authority has been advised to update the Ramsar Information Sheet of Loktak Lake. The Ministry has been providing financial assistance for Loktak Lake since 1988-89 to the Government of Manipur.
In response to questions raised by the media and environmental activists, Bhupender Yadav, the Union Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change, stated that the Ministry has been providing financial aid to the Manipur Government since 1988-89 for the preservation of Loktak Lake.
The aid is utilized for various conservation initiatives such as survey and demarcation, catchment area treatment, fisheries development, phumdis removal, construction of water harvesting structures, small-scale engineering works, and education and awareness programs.
So far, an amount of Rs 16.86 crore has been released by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change to the Government of Manipur. The Integrated Management Plan prepared by LDA has been examined by IIT Roorkee and certain suggestions have been given.
The Ministry has asked the LDA to submit a revised plan addressing all issues related to conservation of Loktak Lake. The Government intends to enhance livelihood opportunities of the local communities through developing eco-tourism infrastructure in and around the lake and need-based capacity building of local communities.
NHPC has agreed to lower the water level of Ithai barrage gradually to the drawdown level in the forthcoming winter season starting from November 2023 to rejuvenate Keibul Lamjao National Park habitat.
The State Government has also commissioned the construction of Seewarage Treatment Plants at Nambul with the financial assistance of Rs 100 crore provided under the NRCP scheme by NRCD.
In response to a question regarding the responsibility of the National Hydroelectric Power Corporation Limited (NHPC) for the rehabilitation and resettlement of the communities affected by the Loktak hydroelectric power project since 1983, Union Environment, Forest and Climate Change Minister Bhupender Yadav explained that the project was implemented before the EIA notification of 1994 and 2006. Therefore, the environment clearance of the project was not applicable to its construction.
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Yadav further mentioned that the Loktak project’s construction began in 1971 and was commissioned in 1983.
NHPC had purchased 217.09 hectares of private land from landowners of 11 villages at various sites of the project, and full compensation was paid to the landowners before land possession.
However, since rehabilitation and resettlement were not applicable at that time, NHPC was not responsible for it, as conveyed by NHPC.
When asked about how the Central Government plans to include the fishing community in the lake management plan, Bhupender Yadav stated that the State Government is taking steps to promote sustainable capture fisheries that prioritize the conservation of ecosystem processes such as migration pathways, water quality, and distribution of phumdis to avoid any adverse impacts.