ENVIS Centre, Ministry of Environment, Forest & Climate Change, Govt. of India

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Union minister urged to revive ancient inland waterways

Source: Chronicle News Service

Imphal, December 05 2021: Apunba Imagi Machasing (AIMS), Manipur has written to union minister Sarbananda Sonowal, asking him to revive "ancient inland waterways in Manipur".

In its proposal sent to the minister of ports, shipping & waterways on Saturday, AIMS wrote, "We would like to inform you that the riverine systems of Manipur fall into two major river systems.

The first being the Irrawaddy River Drainage system, where water flowing through the rivers of Manipur falls first into the Ningthi Turel (Chindwin River) and thereafter into the Irrawaddy River before discharging into the Bay of Bengal.

The second is the Ganga River Drainage system, whereby all rivers flowing West of the Koubru Range discharge themselves into the Barak River before joining the Ganges in Bangladesh emptying into the Bay of Bengal.

It forms three different drainage systems -Barak, Manipur and Ningthi (Chindwin).

The Barak River system is further sub-divided into six basins, namely Barak- Jiri basin, Tuivai basin, Marku river basin, Barak basin, Irang basin and Leimatak basin.

The Manipur River system is also further sub-divided into four sub-basins - Imphal, Iril, Thoubal and Khuga.

The Ningthi Turel (Chindwin River) System includes Tuijang, Taret and Maklang river basins.

It continued, "The drainage to the north finds its way to the Brahmaputra through the Dhansiri river.

Whether passing through the central plain or the eastern hills, the rivers flowing to the south are tributaries of Ningthi in upper Burma.

The Tuvai River joins the Barak River at Tipaimukh in the south-western corner of Manipur, and subsequently, it enters northward, forming the boundary of Mizoram and Manipur and then Cachar plain of Assam, and after crossing the low hills of the Bhuban range, it further flows into Assam and Sylhet (in Bangladesh).

It falls on the old bed of Brahmaputra near Bhairab Bazar.

The rivers of Manipur, draining into Ningthi (Chindwin)-Irrawaddy system, carry the drainage of the eastern half of the state, including the central plain.

It is further sub-divided into the easterly and the westerly streams.

It flows roughly north-south, passing through Mao, Ukhrul, Tengnoupal, Laimaton hills.

"The Imphal river flows the eastern half of Manipur, including the central plain.

The main tributaries of Imphal are Iril, Thoubal, Khuga, Sekmai, Nambol, Nambul.

Loktak Lake and other associated lakes form the water resources of the central valley.

The Iril river meets with the Imphal river at Lilong.

The Thoubal river also joins with the Imphal river at Irong.

It merges with Loktak Lake and further flows, down in the name of Manipur River.

The Manipur River does not fall into the Loktak Lake; instead, it receives its excess water.

After crossing the Manipur border, it flows into the Chin Hills of Myanmar by cutting a deep gorge to the south of Sugnu town, and it joins with Myitha, a tributary of Ningthi and finally meets with the Irrawaddy River.

The Khuga river is a north-flowing tributary of the Manipur River.

The Khuga meets her south of Loktak Lake.

The eastern slopes of the Manipur eastern hills are washed by several small streams of Ningthi (Chindwin) system.

"River Akonglok (Lanier/Laniye river which originates near Ukhrul) and its tributaries - Chamu and Chingai, and Yurivesr and its tributaries - Maklang, Tuyungbi, Taret Lok, Lokchao, Lailimlok and Tuiyang flowing in subparallel pattern through their steeply cut valleys, finally join the Ningthi Turel (Chindwin River) in Kabaw Valley in Myanmar.

These swift-flowing rivers and streams of the state, associated with waterfalls and springs in the hills, and lakes and marshes in the valley, have economic importance for the agricultural and industrial growth of Manipur.

There are many lakes in Manipur valley beside swamps and marshes along the lakeside and in the inter-riverine tracts.

Loktakpat, Pumlenpat, Kharungpat, Ikoppat and Waithoupat, etc, are important lakes.

"Imphal river emptied itself into the Loktak Lake was once famous for its inland waterway in Manipur.

It is well documented in the Tutenglon Puya, an archaic Manipuri manuscript to study the science of water management.

Inland waterway was the cheapest mode of transport and more comfortable, People used the river to reach the Imphal market from different directions through boats.

We usually transported Bamboo and wood through inland waterways.

In the history of Manipur, we can find the ferries between Imphal to Loktak, Dhanshi river to the Brahmaputra, Maklang River to Imphal River, Tipaimuk to Jiribam to Silchar up to Bangladesh through Barak River.

There is a history of ferrying from Loktak Lake up to Mandalay in Myanmar and from Mandalay, connecting all Southeast Asian countries".

"In this regard, we would like to request for rejuvenation of ancient inland waterways in Manipur.

Revival of inland waterways can preserve many wetlands, lakes from the verge of extinction.

Not only it can control the water crises in Manipur, but also it will be a safety valve to prevent flooding and drought in Manipur," AIMS concluded.