TODAY -
Multi-crore project sinks in Loktak Lake
Source: The Sangai Express

Imphal, February 11, 2010: Even as the Planning Commission sanctioned Rs 25 crores to the Loktak Development Authority (LDA) during the last fiscal of 2008-09 to save the largest fresh water lake in North East India, no change can be observed in the worsening condition of the lake.

It seems the multi-crore project literally has sunk in Loktak lake without even making a ripple.

Taking cognizance of the deteriorating condition of Loktak lake, the Planning Commission approved a project christened ‘Conservation and Development of Loktak Lake and Associated Wetlands Integrating Manipur River Basin' as a short term action plan in 2008-09. To implement this project, the Planning Commission sanctioned Rs 25 crores as Special Plan Assistance.

As per the utilisation certificate submitted to the Planning Commission by the LDA, Rs 21 crores was utilised during the same financial year while only Rs 3 crores remained.

The main objectives of the project were removal of phumdis (thick floating bio-mass) from Loktak lake, water management, protection of catchment area, plantation of trees, bio-diversity conservation and enhancement of fish productivity.

According to reports, the LDA has utilised Rs 1645 lakhs in removing phumdis.

The same work was entrusted to M/S K Pro Infra Works on contract.

Further, the LDA spent Rs 25 lakhs in compositing, Rs 285.20 lakhs in catchment conservation, Rs three lakhs in bio-diversity conservation and Rs 67 lakhs towards enhancing fish productivity.

Although it has been claimed that major chunk of the sanctioned amount was spent on removing phumdis, this reporter observed that phumdis are still covering vast expanse of the lake in all directions.

On the other, the lake is becoming shallower and shallower because of deposition of sediment brought by rivers falling into it.

Meanwhile, on enquiries by the Planning Commission (PC) about Loktak conservation project, a steering committee of the LDA has been constituted with the Chief Secretary as chairman.

The PC has also suggested roping in an accredited institution to monitor Loktak conservation efforts in the capacity of a third party.

Taking due note of the Planning Commission's suggestion and comments, the steering committee held a meeting on December 12 last and decided to form another committee with Principal Secretary (Forest and Environment) as chairman and LDA Project Director as Member Secretary.

The committee was set up specifically to synergise and facilitate effective coordination of central sponsored schemes towards conservation of Loktak lake.

In order to check the deteriorating condition of Loktak lake and reverse the alarming trend, the committee would work to establish effective coordination and synergy among different authorities/agents and schemes such as NREGS, Social Forestry, Integrated Watershed Development Project, Technology Mission of Horticulture, Fisheries, Total Sanitation Campaign, Flood Control, NHPC, Wild Life Conservation etc, informed a well-placed source.


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