Wildlife panel set to scrutinise Manipur lake resort proposals
Loktak is the largest natural freshwater lake in the northeast and plays an important role in providing ecological and economic security to the region.
The standing committee of the national board for wildlife (NBWL) willhold a meeting in Manipur to discuss diversion of 82.54 ha of forest land to build a golf course (42.14 ha) and a resort (40.40 ha) within the eco-sensitive zone of the Keibul Lamjao National Park and Khongjaingamba Ching Sanctuary for the proposed Loktak Lake eco-tourism project of the state government.
Loktak is the largest natural freshwater lake in the northeast and plays an important role in providing ecological and economic security to the region. A large population living around the lake depends on it for fish and flora. The lake is rich in biodiversity and has been designated as a wetland of international importance under the Ramsar Convention in 1990.
The Keibul Lamjao National Park in the southern part of the lake is a unique floating wildlife reserve, the refuge of the highly endangered brow-antlered deer, locally called Sangai, according to the Loktak Development Authority (LDA).
During a NBWL meeting held on April 25, minutes of which were published this week on the Parivesh website, the standing committee decided to discuss the proposal with officials of the state forest department, LDA and other stakeholders.
Manipur organized an online meeting on “Wise Use Plan of Loktak Wetland, Manipur and construction of Golf Course & Resort” on October 6, 2022, under the chairmanship of the additional forest chief secretary, Manipur, when it was decided that LDA would pursue the matter with the Centre to obtain approval for the project. The union environment ministry will examine the plan submitted by LDA for approval at an early date.
The joint secretary in charge of the wetland division of the union environment ministry informed that a meeting was held on April 5 in the presence of environment minister Bhupender Yadav, when it was decided that the LDA will submit its comments on an appraisal report (AR) submitted by Indian Institute of Technology Roorkee on the golf course and resort proposal along with its recommendations.
This report was not available on the ministry’s Parivesh website on Tuesday. The LDA will submit a revised impact assessment for consideration of the ministry under the National Plan for Conservation of Aquatic Ecosystems (NPCA).
“The impact assessment should take into cognizance the comments made by IIT Roorkee and address these satisfactorily in the proposal. The Government of Manipur will submit an action plan along with a timeline and a map with clear demarcation of the wetland boundary following guidelines provided by MoEFCC and as per provisions laid by the Ramsar Secretariat for removal of Loktak Lake from Montreux Record,” the minutes of the meeting state. The Montreux record is a register of wetland sites of international importance.
A bathymetric assessment (study of water bed) should be conducted for the site through agencies such as Chilika Development Authority, National Institute of Hydrology and others, it said.
HT on Tuesday reached out to L Bhagaton Singh, project director, Loktak Development Authority but he did not answer calls or messages.
According to a Manipur tourism department document justifying the Loktak project, it can be developed into a major tourism destination that can change the socio-economic status of the state. It will ensure planned and all round development of the region, the department said.