Source: The Sangai Express / DIPR
Imphal, December 17 2016: In pursuant to the terms and conditions laid down by the Planning Commission, Government of India, the project implementation on Short Term Action Plan (STAP) for Conservation and Management of Loktak Lake was monitored by an independent third party namely, Karunya University, Coimbatore and Development Alternatives, New Delhi.
The evaluation brought out positive impact in terms of ecosystem recovery and socio-economic benefits to the people residing in and around Loktak Lake. Removal of Phumdis, mechanically and manually, under Phumdi Management, restored open water area, improved water quality, increased the water holding capacity along with fish yield and number of migratory birds, better navigation of the area and massive reduction of invasive plants like salvinia, paragrass etc, giving space for the growth of indigenous plant species. There is also improvement in the ecosystem of the lake because of the conservation of the bio-diversity. The number of resident and migratory bird has increased from 14,000 to 35,000 in 3 years (2010-2013) and also that of Sangai, from 90 to 203 in a span of 6 years (2006-2013). Over and above, under Water Management, with the improvement of 22 silted inflowing streams, de-siltation of critical areas in the lake, construction of 6 cross regulators and sanitary toilets in 6142 households, flood during wet season and availability of water in the lean season has been mitigated. Water holding capacity of the lake has also increased and fical coliform and nutrient loading were also reduced through this process.
In the catchment areas, afforestation and agro-forestry has also been taken up conserving the soil and moisture of the watershed villages thus improving their livelihood.With these, the degraded catchment areas are re-vegetated and also promoted settled agriculture in the critical watershed areas. There is also reduction in soil erosion, thereby increasing the water holding capacity of the Lake. Livelihood programme were taken up to avoid deforestation of the catchment areas by the villagers.
481 micro-enterprises were established and 16 hatcheries were opened under the Sustainable Livelihood and Resource Development programme. Operations of the hatcheries make available the fingerlings for re-stocking and community fish farming. Beside these, compensation to the Athaphum owners and livelihood packages to the Phumhut dwellers were given as part of the development programme thus improving the holding capacity and quality of the water. Project Management and Administration established monitoring and evaluation division within LDA to enhance the capacity of LDA to take initiatives in implementing and monitoring integrated wetland management. Knowledge for integrated inventory, assessment, capacity building, communication, education and public awareness were also given for this specific purpose. The management of the Loktak wetland complex and overall lake management efforts can be made more comprehensive through the Long Term Action plan (LTAP). The LTAP will essentially include inclusive management of entire complex, enhancement of Institutional effectiveness and Hydrological connectivity of Wetlands and Rivers, improvement of water quality through waste management, participatory management of Phumdis, biodiversity conservation, reducing sedimentation from critical watersheds, ensuring sustainable livelihoods of wetland dependent communities and supporting eco-tourism linking the cultural heritage, biodiversity and livelihoods of the people residing in this area. This Long Term Action Plan (LTAP) can be implemented only after the completion of the Phumdi Management work.