Imphal, Feb 04, 2024, IANS
Champu Khangpok -- the floating village on Manipur’s internationally famed Loktak Lake -- and classified as a wetland of international significance by the Ramsar Convention has always taken a center stage in the Manipuri society.
The village assumes significance in preserving age-old traditions associated with Loktak Lake.
Champu Khangpok village in Loktak Lake is said to be the only natural floating village on earth with 500 huts and home to around 2,000 people.
The village is one of the floating biomasses called ‘phumdis’ in the middle of the Loktak Lake.
Its unique cultural and ecological importance came into focus during the World Wetland Day observation on Friday, emphasising the need for collective efforts to ensure its sustainable future.
The Loktak Development Authority (LDA) and the fishing community commemorated World Wetlands Day on the theme ‘Wetlands and Human Wellbeings’, underscoring the critical role wetlands play in enhancing human lives.
LDA Chairman M. Asnikumar Singh, a local of the lake area, along with renowned bamboo expert Kamesh Salam and state government officials, stressed on the collective commitment to preserve the Loktak Lake.
Famous for its floating islands and picturesque landscape, Loktak Lake in Manipur’s Bishnupur District is one of the largest freshwater bodies in northeast India.
Solar lamps, water filters, generator set, and a fiber canoe were recently distributed among the villagers generously funded by the Minorities and Other Backward Class Department.
This initiative, tailored for Champu Khangpok, aimed to enhance the community’s living conditions and promote sustainable practices in the heart of Loktak.
Acknowledging Champu Khangpok’s deep roots in history, LDA Chairman M. Asnikumar Singh said: “The cultural and ecological importance of this floating village is crucial for Loktak’s sustainable future, making collective efforts imperative.”
The LDA director pledged support for the construction of a special floating school for Champu Khangpok, with funding allocated by the government of India through the state education department.
Plans also include the installation of Bio-digester toilets for each khangpok shang (hut), contributing to improved sanitation facilities tailored for the unique lifestyle of Champu Khangpok.
LDA Chairman reiterated his appeal directly to the fishing community, urging responsible practices and a halt to illegal fishing and hunting of water birds in Loktak Lake, particularly through the use of electric current and lights.
This call aligns with ongoing efforts to protect the diverse ecosystem of the lake and uphold the sustainable practices championed by Champu Khangpok.
As Loktak Lake faces an imminent threat of extinction with its natural life cycle disrupted by the Ithai barrage, the hydroelectric project, Champu, with its population of around two thousand settling on 500 circular floating huts comprising the village, is central to the collective commitment towards sustainable development, conservation, and the overall well-being of Loktak Lake and its associated wetlands.
This year’s theme on the occasion of the World Wetlands Day was ‘Wetlands and Human Wellbeing’ highlights how wetlands contribute to flood protection, clean water, biodiversity, and recreational opportunities, all of which are essential for human health and prosperity.
The Loktak Lake covering an area of 287 sq km is considered the lifeline of the people of Manipur due to its importance in their socio-economic and cultural life.
The lake is oval-shaped with a maximum length and width of 32 km and 13 km respectively. The depth of the lake varies between 0.5 and 4.6 meters with an average recorded at 2.7 meter.
There are 14 hills located in the Lake varying in size and elevation and appear as islands in the southern part of the lake. The most prominent among these are Sendra, Ithing, and Thanga islands.
Three of northeast India’s most important ecosystems - Rudrasagar Lake in Tripura, Deepor Beel in Assam and Loktak Lake in Manipur are categorised as wetlands of international importance under the Ramsar Convention.
Held in February 1971 at Ramsar in Iran, the Ramsar Convention provides the framework for national action and international cooperation for the conservation and sustainable use of wetlands and their resources.
(Sujit Chakraborty can be contacted at [email protected])
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