Bring development and growth, but also appraise the existing environment

Sir,

Committee Against the Conservation Reserve of Phumlenpat (CACRP), formed in the larger interest of the people living in the area, August 2018, demur at the proposal forwarded by the government of India and Manipur to convert Phumlenpat and Khoidumpat into a National Park, a second home for Sangai. The authorities put forth the idea to covert both the lakes, Phumlenpat and Khoidumpat, into an artificially developed habitat for Sangai.
The organisation urges the authorities to identify the potential and expertise the natives have over their area. To convert the lakes into a National Park will be a living nightmare of the people.
Most of the large farm lands have been turned/become unfit for agriculture as a result of the Ithai barrage construction. Most of the developmental projects undertaken by the government are for the larger “good” but it is indeed very necessary to consider and put into account the impacts it will have over the people who are a part of the ecosystem, and who are very much dependent over nature’s goods.
The organisation also put forth the concern over the aftermath of the Ithai barrage which has left the nine revenue villages namely,
1. 67 Hiyanglam
2. 68 Hiyanglam
3. 71 Langmeidong
4. 72 Thounaojam
5. 73 Elang Kangpokpi
6. 83 Laphupat
7. 84 Arong Nongmaikhong
8. 84(A) Pumlen
9. 67(A) Khoidum Lamjao,
into a flooded barren uncultivated fields. The detrimental effects are unprecedented on the lives of the people, it has already become one of the reasons to cut the throat of their livelihood. It is indispensable to examine the crippling affliction it will have on the people by the current proposal of the authority and it is an inhumane and an inconsiderate act. Ithai barrage construction gave birth to a whole lot of newer problems such as the lost of natural habitat, decline in the production of the particular crops /plants specific to the area like Kobi, Alu, Hanggam etc. Now the trouble multiplies.
It is important to bring out a well thought out Developmental projects by the State’s advisors which not only bring development and growth of the region but also appraises the existing environment. The two lakes, Phumlenpat and Khoidumpat are unfit for Sangai habitation and to shift them and create a new second artificial home for them works against the nature. And these are not the floating lakes similar to Keibul Lamjao National Park, the current home to Sangai.
According to the villagers the two lakes, Phumlenpat and Khoidumpat, are their lifelines. They are fed by the lake’s natural abundance. Fishing is the main activity practiced by the people of the area, they are economically and socially supported by the lakes. The lakes are a part of their lives and takes immense pride in them, to snatch it away from them by the mere act of greed of the authority is a horrifying nightmare and living hell for the people.
Half baked developmental project proposals around the world have faced rigid defiance through social movements, such as the Chipko Movement or Chipko Undolan a forest conservation movement where people embrace the trees to prevent them from being cut. Ecology movement has deemed importance as it is the value of earth and other interactions between humans, science and responsibility.
The people also want the authority to not digress the actual matter at hand by proposing to develop a new National Park while the existing one is in danger and require actual attention.
After the Ithai barrage the villagers have suffered enough and demand for constructive attention to bring back normalcy to their lives and their livelihood. Instead the authority is trying to pull another string in the air giving false hope to the people in the name of creating a safe “haven” for the people.
It is a superficial proposal, an attempt to divert people’s attention bracketing it with developmental expansion by inherently avoiding the underlying problems.
The report named ‘Stakeholder Consultation On Establishment of Pumlenpat And Thongam Mondum Conservation Reserve For Reintroduction Of Sangai’ published by the Wildlife Institute of India this year, 2018, is a misconstrue of reality based on sheer attempt to alter the facts. The villagers feel betrayed and deceived by this very act and demand to conduct a new report on the matter.
The report also included some under researched report where they published on how the authority have created a new employment opportunities such as weaving, handicraft etc. But what is alarming is the fact that there is no such “acclaimed” productive outcome from such opportunities from the region, on top of that the means to bring the production into the market is exorbitant.
For instance the dirt road or unpaved road to reach Arong Nongmaikhong from Imphal or vice a versa needs a fix, it takes as long as 3 hours in one way- 3 hours for 70 kms is a squander of energy. If the authority’s intension is genuine and for the welfare of the people then it is necessary to put into account the drawbacks it has on the people. This foolishness and so called employment opportunities will perhaps exhaust people’s resources. People condemn at this illusionary promise to “enhance” the lives of Arong Nongmaikhong.

Yours sincerely
Shamurailatpam Bidyalaxmi

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