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Manipur University workshop discusses Loktak issues

Source: Chronicle News Service

Imphal, November 22 2021: While noting that there is always a debate between development and sustainability of communities who thrive upon natural landscapes, Manipur University's vice chancellor professor N Lokendra Singh said that the politico-administrative decision of the state involves complex issues on different aspects of the state.

Addressing a one-day workshop on 'redefining Loktak indigenous peoples' territory, rights to life and resource use' held at the university's court room on Monday, professor Lokendra said that such workshop is very important for proactive interaction amongst various stakeholders to address grievances affecting local communities.

The vice-chancellor observed that the outcome of the workshop could be a new thinking process for the blue economy.

Presenting the key note address of workshop, professor Elangbam Bijoykumar Singh, director CSSEIP, said that the question of sustainability has since emerged in a big way in today's world which is plagued by various human and environmental issues.

Expressing his concern that the manner in which development has been happening may not be in the best ways, professor Bijoykumar opined that finding options for solution is the correct way to resolve conflicts of interest between communities and states.

Loktak Lake is like the proverbial phoenix and activities centring round this lake, which provides food and shelter to local communities, need to be people-centric and focused on finding solutions to local people's needs and aspirations, he stressed.

Universities and the academia should not be 'islands' confined to themselves alone, rather they should reach out to the people in understanding the needs and aspirations of the people, said professor SK Shrivastava, who is former vice-chancellor of NEHU, during his address at the opening session of the workshop.

Professor S Mangi Singh, dean of School of Social Sciences MU, placing his observations reflected that the discussion on issues of Loktak Lake should be on a broader thematic temperament and it is very important to understand who are the indigenous people in the state.The people in Manipur can never think of Manipur in isolation of Loktak at the forefront, professor Mangi observed saying that the focus should be on protecting the rights of those local people who live within and around the lake.

Participating in the one-day workshop, Dr Rajkumari Sunita Devi, additional CEO, State Level Nodal Agency for Watershed, Planning Department, spoke on, 'Wetlands for our Future: Loktak - A Perspective Study'; while Salam Rajesh, honorary member of ICCA Consortium', presented power point talk on 'Loktak Fishers' Assertion on their Rights to Life and Resource Use within Loktak Territory of Life'.

Oinam Rajen Singh, secretary ALLAFUM, delivered a talk on deprivation of the rights of Loktak fishers by state intervention; Champu Khangpok floating village dweller Heisnam Apabi Devi spoke on rights violations faced by the Loktak fishing community; while Human Rights Alert's executive director Babloo Loitongbam delivered an enlightening talk on international legislations binding human rights violations.

Indigenous Perspectives' executive director Ramananda Wangkheirakpam spoke On status and assertion of Loktak fishers' rights, and independent researcher Donald Takhell presented a talk on 'Assessing Loktak fishers' concerns on livelihoods threatened by external pressures'.

The workshop organised by the Centre for Study of Social Exclusion and Inclusive Policy, Manipur University in association with All Loktak Lake Areas Fishermen's Union, Manipur (ALLAFUM), also had presentations from research scholars working under the Centre.