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The mighty Loktak, the largest freshwater lake in northeast India, is a unique ecosystem and a source of livelihood for thousands of fishermen and farmers.

The lake is home to about 200 aquatic plant species and 400 faunal species, including the endemic and endangered brow-antlered Sangai deer and over 60 species of birds, most of which are migratory.

The Rs 2,600 crore Loktak Eco-Tourism Project and the Loktal Inland Waterways Improvement Project will span over 82 hectares of the lake, coming in direct contact with the sensitive flora and fauna.

The project plans the construction of a ‘sea beach’, golf course, resorts, boardwalks and walkways, motor boating, etc., on the vibrant freshwater wetland ecosystem.

The BJP government sees the project as a game-changer.

The project came as a rude shock to thousands who depend on Loktak for their livelihood. Activist Salam Rajesh, who has been fighting for the rights of fishermen and conservation of the lake for over 20 years, says the project will be detrimental to the fragile ecosystem.

It is no more a secret that Loktak Lake is losing its beauty, its fish species, and waterfowl birds. Much of the damage took place after the Ithai barrage was constructed in 1983 over the Manipur river to the south of Loktak lake.

In 2017, when the BJP government came into power, it promised to decommission the barrage. It was a message that the Chief Minister of Manipur N Biren Singh delivered personally. It was a promise that was not kept.

Also read | Angry Manipur: Who is instigating the violence?

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