Rejuvenation of Lamphelpat

If the Lamphelpat, one of the biggest wetlands located in Manipur’s capital Imphal, is restored and successfully conserved, it would reduce or mitigate flash floods that happen frequently in the Imphal area.

BySanjenbam Jugeshwor Singh

Updated 10 Feb 2024, 3:40 am

Lamphelpat (PHOTO: IFP)
Lamphelpat (PHOTO: IFP)

Lamphelpat, which is in the foothills of the Langol hill range, was a natural water reservoir. Siltations, encroachment by private individuals and construction of government installations have turned it into a mere marshy place. The historically significant Lamphelpat is staring at an uncertain future. This wetland in the urban area of Imphal West district is about 19.22 square kilometers and “shrinking”, said experts.

Lamphelpat is a mini Loktak lake, maintaining the ecosystem of Imphal city and its surrounding areas. In the past it served as a reservoir, storing excess water of the Luwangli and Nambul rivers during monsoon. It was used to release water to the rivers during the lean season. It is said that Maharaj Bodhchandra Singh's durbar was resolved in the early '40s to prevent conversion of the water body into an agricultural land.

Lamphel in Imphal West is about 60 square kilometers in area and comprises 25.01 sq. km in rural area and 34.99 sq. km in urban area. And for many years, the famous Lamphelpat had been providing its abundant resources and services to the surrounding people. The wetland stores water drained from the Lamphel Reserve Forest and the Nambul River. It brought down the temperature and controlled or mitigated floods by storing the excess water from the Nambul River. Residents of Uripok, neighbors to the Lamphelpat, hailed the decision taken by the state government. Uripok is a flood-prone neighbourhood.

"We suffer floods every year. This time we had five floods due to breaches of the Nambul embankment. Two days' rain makes the river overflow and rainwater has nowhere to go. Uripok will be flooded if rain continues for two days," a person, who is residing near the Nambul river, said. Other areas of Imphal too experienced flash floods whenever it rains.

Now all these have been affected by uncontrolled anthropogenic activities and negligence. However it is confident that once Lamphelpat's water body is restored, floods can be controlled and water scarcity in and around Imphal city will end.


With siltation, human encroachment and dumping of waste materials in the wetland, the Lamphelpat has lost its original glory. Siltation and dumping of waste materials have made it shallower every year and water plants and weeds have wholly covered the wetland suffocating it. “Wetlands offer many benefits or services.  They regulate micro- climates and bring down the temperature of the local area. They help mitigate floods and support biodiversity. They are home to many flora and fauna essential to maintaining ecological balance.

“On conservation, bringing water back to the wetland only would not help preserve and save it. “A wetland can be said to have been restored and preserved when it resumes all the ecosystem services. It would again support all the flora and fauna and regulate micro-climate.”

The densely populated urban area of Imphal or the Urban Heat Island (UHI) is warmer than the rural areas surrounding it. This excess heat is created by energy from all the people, cars, buses and infrastructures. However, the presence of a healthy urban wetland would provide a micro-climate, a local set of atmospheric conditions that differ from those in the surrounding areas. It (wetland) would cool or bring down the temperature in the urban area by absorbing carbon-dioxide and other greenhouse gases.

Further, if the Lamphelpat is restored and successfully conserved, it would reduce or mitigate flash floods that happen frequently in the Imphal area. Human settlement and development can take place vertically without affecting the wetland, so that timely and speedy conservation of the wetland would benefit all. Resources mapping may be done to protect and conserve them.

According to the State Wetland Technical Committee, the Lamphelpat is one among many wetlands the committee recommended to the State Wetland Authority for conservation. The Lamphelpat was also famous for Kombirei flowers. Conserving the wetland would not only bring back this flower but also migratory birds.

Conserving the wetland would also attract tourists. According to experts the soil profile of the Lamphelpat has revealed that it contains about 20 feet thick layer of soil made of decomposed biomass and soft clay. This soil profile confirms that it was a wetland that the upper soil of the Lamphelpat burns when dried and ignited because it is composed of decomposed biomass. Further, the soil of Lamphelpat is not suitable for major construction and as such there had been discussion to build some of the infrastructure elsewhere. It is also known fact that, there have been frequent floods in the wetland area as the Samusang Uku (culvert-drainage/discharge point) was narrow.


During the 2015 flood, about 1131 mm water was drained into the Lamphelpat when discharge capacity at Samusang Uku was about 31.2 cubic meters per second. During the rainy season of 2018, about 1974 mm water was drained into the wetland when the Samusang Uku was able to discharge only about 18.3 cubic meters per second. This made the water level of Lamphelpat rise enormously, flooding the surrounding areas.

On the other hand, some historians recalled that the Lamphelpat was a source of livelihood for the locals. Locals used to fish in the water and cattle grazed in the wetland. There were no major settlements and infrastructure development in the wetland area till the 1960s. Since the 60s, there have been massive changes in terms of settlement and infrastructure development in the wetland.

Now there is Central Agricultural University, Zoo, Games Village, Langol Housing Complex, NIT, Sewage Plan and other Government offices and projects in the wetland area. There are three major roads-Games village road, Shija Hospital road and Central School road, all of which are affecting and disturbing the natural flow of water causing floods. The Lamphelpat used to mitigate floods, now it is causing floods. The wetland should be conserved in time before it is too late, he added.

Meanwhile, according to the Water Resources Department, development of a 442 square kilometres water body in Lamphelpat area has been started and going on in full-swing. The project with an estimated cost of around Rs. 650 crore is being implemented under the Ministry of Jal Shakti with funding from the World Bank. Eighty per cent of the cost will be borne by the Centre while the remaining 20 percent will be covered by the State Government.

The project aims at improving and enhancing supply of drinking water, flood control and eco-tourism. The planned water body would store excess water from Nambul River and water collected from various sources and catchment areas would be further treated for use in water supply schemes. In fact, restoration of Lamphelpat will benefit enormously for the people of Manipur in general and Imphal area in particular. This is a right step forward and let’s hope it is completed in the stipulated time.


First published:


manipurflash floodsLamphelpat rejuvenation

Sanjenbam Jugeshwor Singh

Sanjenbam Jugeshwor Singh

Assistant Professor, JCRE Global College, Babupara, Imphal. The writer can be reached at sjugeshwor7@gmail.com


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