The term ‘Pat’ means lake in Meitei dialect. Most of the lake are on the verge to extinction at this decades. Loktak pat is the largest freshwater lake located in Bishnupur district. Today, the freshwater lake is polluted, degraded and decreased level of water due to various anthropogenic activities. Highly contaminated brownish coloured water, sewage and garbage are seen at Langolshabi area.
Local people and fisherman describe the presence of waste materials, plastic related bottle, wine bottle and even inorganic components (Glass, Tin and Aluminium) carried down especially during the monsoon season (June-July-August-September) dumped from the Nambul turel. The fusion of this component forms an unpleasant smell which is a threat to Champhu village, one of the villages inside the lake. As a result, people are prone to water borne diseases.
On the other side, most migratory birds are losing their breeding ground due to human activities like encroachment, eutrophication and lack of educational and environmental awareness among the locals. The destruction of lake habitat along the routes poses a risk to the long-distance fliers.
The theme for World Wetlands Day, 2022 is ‘Wetland action for people and nature’. The theme highlights the importance of actions to ensure the conservation and sustainable use of wetlands for humans and planetary health. The theme is aptly chosen for the people of Manipur to remind the importance of wetlands and it’s present. The people clearly understand the term but the ongoing development, the scenario of urbanisation and the scientific demands is altering the wetlands in some or the other ways.
Besides, many of the wetlands are reducing its water quality to such levels to dry up at any time of the year. In the above cases, scientific activities and natural factors are responsible for the systematic change of wetlands in Manipur.
Scientifically, studies revealed that reducing numbers of wetlands leading to the rise of carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere. The philosophy of carbon dioxide is to alter the weather pattern in terms of temperature, precipitation and humidity. The rising temperature serves as a trigger for both the local and migratory birds as well as wild animals to undertake the important events like migration or reproduction, shifts in temperature would change the overall activities.
Sometimes, the birds show the sign of early breeding in the spring seasons. More importantly, decomposition of phumdis disturbs the water levels in the Loktak help declines the water quality leading to reduce the overall water holding capacity in the lake and reduces its aesthetic value. Besides, the thickness of Phumdis becomes thinner leading to the unpredictable survival of Rucervus eldi eldi.
The Loktak Lake is included in the Ramsar convention since 23 March 1990 as a wetland of international importance. The Montreux Record listed Loktak Lake on 16 June 1993 in need of priority conservation status. Therefore, the best way to conserve the Loktak Lake is local awareness, monitoring the lake from time to time and strictly follow the rules and regulations as suggested by the concerned department. Promotion of education regarding lake conservation will be helpful.
Besides, information on wildlife status and their contributions to ecosystem development would be needed for effective conservation of wildlife management on the surrounding areas. Numerous conservationists, government organisations and NGOs must go together to protect the migratory birds in various ways, including legislation.
Moreover, the climate change is forcing each and every individual species to adjust at this era. It is the right time to check animal behaviour which can be used as a role model to track the mechanism and velocity of climate change in the state. Forest department initiated diversified livelihood options like weaving, bamboo and cane craft, integrated livestock, mushroom culture, apiculture, ginger dehydration and oleoresins, spices processing and preservation and processing of fruit and bamboo for conservation and management of Loktak lake.
The Manipur Loktak Lake (Protection) Act, 2006 (Manipur Act 3 of 2006) notified in the Manipur Gazette, Imphal, on April 5, 2006, provide for administration, control, protection, improvement, conservation and development of the natural environment of the Loktak Lake and for matters connected with as incidental thereto.
(The views expressed are personal)