Nongmaikhong, Sep. 7 (EMN): The villagers of Nongmaikhong, a small village located about 55 km south of Imphal, on the southern part of Loktak lake in Manipur’s Bishnupur district have demanded removal of Ithai barrage for the revival of their sustainable livelihood.
The feeling and sentiments of the Nongmaikhong village which has around 300 houses were conveyed when a number of NGO representatives from various parts of the NE states visited their village on Thursday.
“We experience worst ever flood in the past one decade as flood water enters to our fish farms three times in a row”, says 47 year old housewife N Bidyarani Devi of Nongmaikhong Awang Leikai. “So whatever we have in the fish has gone.”
This is not first time Bidyarani’s family has faced flood in her village. They have been suffering it every monsoon as their fish farm was routinely hit by flood every monsoon due to rising of water level of the Loktak Lake because of the damming for Loktak Multipurpose project (LMP) by Ithai barrage, a component of LMP since last 30 years.
Earlier the villagers use to collect aquatic vegetables in and around the Lake. But because of the restriction by forest authority to conserve the habitat of Sangai (brow antlered deer) at Keibul Lamjao, the only floating park in the country at Loktak, they could not do it.
“So we want the government to remove the dam (Ithai barrage) for the welfare of the people,” mother of two children felt. Like Bidyarani’s family, 300 plus families of Nongmaikhong have a similar sentiment.
According to Budhi, more than 80,000 hectares of arable land was destroyed by water inundation and frequent flash flood through the year after the project was commissioned in 1983.
Besides villagers of Nongmaikhong, villagers in the downstream of Ithai barrage, including those from Sandangkhong areas have a different feeling over the Ithai barrage.
It may be mentioned that Manipur based civil society organisations and NGOs have been voicing for the immediate review of the LMP. They have also started to discuss the pro and cons of LMP in the state while some others are looking for necessary steps in case of any consequences if the proposed review activities comes into force in reality.
This recent trend came into light soon after the state Chief Minister Biren Singh urged the Prime Minister Narendra Modi to review the LMP and Ithai barrage for a permanent solution to the frequent floods in the state during their meeting in Guwahati on August 1 this year.
The total damages inflicted by the recent floods in Manipur has been estimated at Rs 223.83 crore which has been further increased to Rs 358.23 crore while a total of 78,677 hectares of agricultural land including 77,900 hectares of paddy, 307 hectares of maize, 300 hectares of pulses, 150 hectares of oil seed and 20 hectares of sugarcane have been damaged.About 25 persons also lost their lives.
The Loktak multipurpose project was taken up in 1983 to provide regulated storage to generate 105 MW of power and lift irrigation. The main component of the project include Ithai barrage (35ft high dam) across Manipur River with three spillway bays.
Villagers demand government remove Ithai barrage in Manipur