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Lamphelpat lake rejuvenation, a triumph for conservation efforts in Manipur

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Lamphelpat lake rejuvenation, a triumph for conservation efforts in Manipur

Imphal, March 14 (IANS) Lamphelpat, once a majestic lake in Manipur but relegated to the annals of history, is undergoing a remarkable revival, thanks to the Rs 650 crore Lamphelpat Waterbody Project (LWP) undertaken by the state’s Water Resource Department in collaboration with the Jal Shakti Ministry.

Articulated by Remmei Alemmei, Chief Engineer of Manipur’s Water Resources Department, the primary objective of this ambitious project is to develop an Integrated Flood Risk Management and ensure water security in the Imphal Valley, comprising several districts.

Alemmei said that with a staggering water storage capacity of 124 million cubic meters, Lamphelpat waterbody is poised to provide potable water to over four lakh residents of Imphal through the Public Health Engineering Department (PHED).

“Moreover, this rejuvenation endeavour is not merely about bolstering water resources, it also entails preserving the ecological integrity of the Nambul river, enhancing aesthetic values, and promoting eco-tourism potentiality of capital city Imphal,” he added.

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There have been already promising signs of ecological revival, with increased sightings of migratory and resident birds flocking to the waterbody.

Wildlife Explorer Manipur, in collaboration with the Central Forest Division of the state government, has recently conducted bird counts on Lamphelpat Waterbody, revealing a significant upsurge in bird population compared to previous years.

According to the survey, this year’s count surpassed 3,000 birds, indicating a marked improvement in the health of the waterbody and surrounding ecosystem.

The Wildlife Explorer reported that in 2023, they counted 2,460 birds spanning 47 species, whereas in January 2024, the count surged to 5,514 birds of 32 species. This upward trend in bird numbers is indicative of the improving health condition of the Lamphelpat Waterbody.

Furthermore, its data revealed a consistent annual increase in both migratory and resident bird populations over the past three years.

In 2021, the count stood at 1194 birds of 30 species, which rose to 3294 birds (37 species) in 2022.

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Alemmei noted that the ongoing dredging and vegetation marsh clearing, including the removal of phumdis, are being carried out diligently.

The efforts of the state government in wetland conservation have garnered widespread acclaim.

Tourangbam Brajakumar, Director of the Directorate of Environment and Climate Change of Manipur, hailed the timely action as crucial in combating the alarming decline of wetlands in the state. With only 119 wetlands remaining out of the original 550, the need for conservation efforts cannot be overstated.

Brajakumar highlighted the primary factors contributing to the decline of wetlands, including the transportation of eroded soil from deforested hills through rivers, siltation caused by improper land use practices, the encroachment of urbanization, indiscriminate dumping of urban waste into water bodies, and the overarching impact of climate change.

He emphasized the critical importance of wetlands for ecological health, underscoring the government’s prioritization of rejuvenating six wetlands out of the 24 identified for conservation efforts.

“Wetlands play a pivotal role in maintaining ecosystem balance,” he explained. “They purify the air by absorbing carbon dioxide, replenish underground water sources, mitigate flash floods, alleviate water scarcity issues, and sustain a diverse array of life forms, including humans. By preserving wetlands, we amplify these invaluable benefits.”

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The Lamphelpat Waterbody Project comprises six key components, ranging from flood control measures and catchment area management to the promotion of eco-tourism activities.

Beyond mitigating flood risks and ensuring climate resilience, the project aims to generate a host of socio-cultural, economic, and environmental benefits that will enrich the lives of Imphal city residents and visitors alike.

As Lamphelpat undergoes a remarkable transformation from a neglected relic to a flourishing ecosystem, it stands as a testament to the power of political conviction in conservation efforts and the unwavering dedication to preserving the natural legacy of the state, a vision championed by Manipur Chief Minister N. Biren Singh.

(Sujit Chakraborty can be contacted at sujit.c@ians.in)

–IANS

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