The establishment of fish farms and human settlements within the Loktak Protection Act area, measuring 266.21 square kilometers, has complicated the government’s efforts to conserve the freshwater lake. Some of the individuals involved in these activities, including patta holders and influential people with fake pattas, have caused opposition to the sub-committee of the Loktak Development Authority (LDA) assigned to demarcate the lake’s boundaries. An LDA official, who spoke anonymously, stated that various factors have hindered the subcommittee’s work, primarily due to opposition from the local population.
The official added that a Cabinet Sub-Committee, chaired by the PHED Minister, has been formed to maintain the integrity of the Loktak Lake boundary. The committee’s formation was decided upon during a Cabinet meeting in October 2022. According to the LDA official, the establishment of fish farms and human settlements, by both patta and non-patta holders, in the designated area of Loktak Lake has caused significant hindrances to the government’s preservation efforts. The official added that influential individuals, some of whom hold fake pattas, often confront patta holders while they perform their duties.
During the boundary marking along Keipha Road to Thamnapoki on the southern side of the Loktak Lake on March 15, members of the sub-committee led by Moirang AC MLA and LDA Chairman had an argument with the locals, according to the official. The incident required the presence of top government officials and police protection during the demarcation exercise. The official added that the LDA also inspected Bengoon and Mayang Imphal areas, situated on the eastern side of the lake, during which three hydraulic excavators were impounded for making unlawful fish farms inside the lake, and their drivers were arrested.
The locals initially opposed the boundary marking works at Mayang Imphal Bengoon areas, but the demarcation exercise was carried out after the PHED Minister L Susindro and LDA Chairman held a dialogue with the protesters. The government aims to provide alternative sources of livelihood to fish farmers by consulting with the Chief Minister, according to the LDA Chairman, who also assured that the government would not deprive the patta holders of their rights. The Revenue Department has been processing the cancellation of some land pattas issued for settlement at the Loktak Lake, while the government has proposed an eco-tourism project to the Asian Development Bank. Representatives from the bank assessed the situation of the lake and advised the government to prioritize ecological restoration and livelihood projects.