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Manipur: Villagers dependent on Loktak Lake narrate woes owing to COVID-19, seek govt help

Manipur: Villagers dependent on Loktak Lake narrate woes owing to COVID-19, seek govt help

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Bishnupur (Manipur) [India], Aug 23 (ANI): The coronavirus pandemic and the ensuing lockdown imposed to contain the spread of the virus have shown the devastating impact on the locals of Champu Khangpok village who are dependent on fishing from the famous Loktak Lake for their livelihood.
Loktak in Manipur is the largest freshwater lake in the north-eastern region of the country and is famed for its 'phumdis' or floating islands. The lake provides the livelihood for close to 30,000 people, and these floating islands are permanent homes of several fishing communities who have been conserving this unique wetland ecosystem.
The floating islands are a thick heterogeneous mass of vegetation, soil, and organic matter that looks like small lush green islands. On the Phumdis, the fishing community builds small thatched huts to live in.
About 240 fishing families from the Champu Khangpok village too are amongst those who were dependent on the lake. However, the lockdown affected them greatly since they were stuck inside the lake on the floating islands and could neither sell their catch nor buy essentials as they used to do earlier due to the closing down of the nearby markets.

To ensure their survival during the scarcity of essentials like rice and pulses, some of the villagers had started depending on available vegetables alone for their daily meals.
The fishing families, who have no other source of livelihood, have now made an appeal to the government to pave a way to designate the opening of two docks at Ningthoukhong and Yangoi Karang, twice a week so that they can sell their catch and procure their daily needs from the markets.
Nabachandra Oinam, a villager told ANI, "Most of us are fishermen and we are not able to sell fish in neighbouring markets due to restrictions. We are facing a lot of trouble due to this. The government should pay heed to our woes."
The woes, however, do not end here as the education of children has also been impacted in this phase, due to the lack of smartphones to access the online classes. The first floating school in the north-east has however filled that gap to some extent as it continues to provide education to the children of the community even during the crisis phase.

Ningthoujam Ongbi Thasana Devi, another local, however, said that the government should pay heed to these difficulties, as buying a smartphone for education would be the last thought on mind of those who have been struggling to survive each day.
Meanwhile, the villagers also raised the issue of rising pollution in the Loktak lake. Several small rivers and streams of the valley and hills in the state find their way into the lake which is spread over an area of 26,000 hectares.

This leads to waste materials from all areas pouring into the lake thereby posing a threat to the ecosystem of the freshwater lake. (ANI)

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.


ANI

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