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Loktak fishers call for respect of fundamental human rights

Source: Chronicle News Service

Imphal, December 11 2021: Human rights is a fundamental right for every person on this planet, irrespective of gender, class or situation, and government of Manipur must respect the rights of the Loktak fishers, All Loktak Lake Areas Fishermen's Union, Manipur secretary Oinam Rajen re-emphasised on the occasion of Human Rights Day 2021 on Friday.

Loktak Lake dwellers observed the day, with a simple function at Langolsabi locality of Champu Khangpok, one of the only floating villages of its kind in the entire world, uniquely placed amongst floating biomass across the lake - a Ramsar site of international importance.

The recent move by the Loktak Development Authority to deny the existence of Champu Khangpok float ing village in Loktak Lake is a classic example of absolute violation of the fundamental human rights of the marginalised fishing community, Rajen said, while referring to the LDA's recent complaint filed with the Elections Commission to de-recognise the polling station assigned to the village citing invalid reasoning that the village is 'non-existent'.

Champu Khangpok is a government recognised village and the census reading of villages under the Moirang Sub-Division cited the village on different occasions, Rajen pointed out, adding that the village was in existence much before the establishment of Loktak Development Authority in 1987.Terming the LDA's reference to the non-existence status of the village as uncalled for, Rajen cited the Moirang Sub-Divisional Officer's official census report of 2001 stating the village with 342 households and a total population of 1368.The LDA's preposterous claim must be withdrawn immediately, he demanded.

Respecting human rights is fundamental for all, Manipur University Professor Elangbam Bijoykumar Singh said as chief guest of the observance.

There is need for the academics and research scholars to understand the dynamics of the lake and the people who depend on it to do justice to the indigenous Ashing community, he continued.

Referring to the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and the Environment, David R Boyd's 2021 report to the UN General Assembly, environmentalist Salam Rajesh said that the report is self-explanatory, which states that, "Exclusionary conservation commonly involves eviction and displacement of Indigenous Peoples and other rural rights holders from their lands, typically without due process or respect for the right of free, prior, and informed consent".

The report titled as 'Human rights-based approaches to conserving biodiversity: equitable, effective and imperative', stated that, "Many governments continue to embrace restrictive or exclusionary conservation approaches aiming to purge high-biodiversity areas of human inhabitants".

The report's author David Boyd has specifically focused on the principle of respect of fundamental human rights, stating that, "Rights-based approaches are obligatory in all actions to conserve, restore, and share the benefits of biodiversity, including conservation financing," Rajesh pointed out.

Loktak Lake has been subjected to a process of ecological disaster primarily due to the Loktak Hydroelectric Power Project and the fishing community have suffered extensively by the provisions of the Manipur Loktak Lake (Protection) Act of 2006, Rajesh contended adding that the current status of the lake as a Ramsar site need to be reviewed at the earliest.

Observed annually on the lOthday of December across the globe, the day reminds the world of the universality of humankind and the need to have respect for human lives in all of its aspects, whether socially, culturally, economically or politically.

The event was attended by research scholars from the Centre for the Study of Social Exclusion & Inclusive Policy, Manipur University and Indigenous Perspective, Imphal.